UNWTO urges G20 countries to ease visa process

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The UNWTO has told G20 countries that easing visa processes could play a major role in stimulating economic growth and creating new jobs.

According to research by the UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), presented on the occasion of the T20 Ministers’ Meeting in Mexico, G20 economies could boost their international tourist figures by an additional 122 million visitors, generate an extra US$206 billion in receipts and create more than five million additional jobs by 2015 by improving visa processes.

Findings show that of the 656 million international tourists who visited G20 countries in 2011, 110 million needed a visa, while millions more were deterred from travelling by the cost, waiting time and difficulty of obtaining a visa. Many of these visitors are from some of the world’s fastest growing source markets, offering a potential boom for developed countries.

The UNWTO said that in spite of the “great strides” made in recent decades to facilitate travel, there are still several areas of opportunity, including maximising the use of information and communication technologies in improving visa procedures, instituting eVisa programmes and establishing regional agreements for visa facilitation.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, called on G20 governments to look more closely at the issue of visas. “Small steps towards visa facilitation can result in big economic benefits. By facilitating visas, the G20 countries stand to gain five million jobs at a time of rampant unemployment across the world. These are in addition to the hundreds of millions of direct and indirect jobs already being supported every day by the sector,” Rifai said.

David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, added; “Encouraging freedom to travel is a simple step that governments around the world can take to encourage more travellers and the creation of millions of new jobs and billions of dollars of GDP – without compromising national security. For the first time, this report makes clear the extent of the opportunity – it cannot be ignored.”

 

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