Visa regimes: opening levels continue to rise

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has long supported the need to further facilitate travel if we are to promote the development of tourism and increase the socioeconomic benefits. According to the latest UNWTO report on visa regimes and the opening to tourism (Visa Openness Report), the share of tourists who need a visa prior to their trip and has continued to fall never been at such a low level: in 2015, 39% of the world population could travel for tourism purposes without obtaining traditional visa before departure, against only 23% in 2008.
On average over the entire world’s population, 18 percent of people could travel without visas in 2015, another 15 per cent could receive a visa on arrival and 6 percent could obtain electronic visas.
Overall, emerging economies remain more open than the advanced economies. The Southeast Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania are the most open regions. In 2015, Central Africa, North Africa and North America were the subregions imposing more restrictions.
“It is crucial to raise the facilitation of priority ranking to travel if we are to stimulate, through tourism, economic growth and job creation. We are pleased to see an increasing number of governments around the world share this idea, “said the Secretary General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai.
“The current challenges security should not deter us from further facilitate the formalities for obtaining visas. On the contrary, the strengthening of security and facilitation of tourist travel should always go hand in hand. Safety and security is for all of us, right now, our top concerns, we have to just work more closely together to promote smooth travel in conditions of safety and security by exploiting the opportunities offered by technology and building on international cooperation for the exchange of data, “he has added.
There was plenty of action taken, but the destinations around the world still have several avenues to be explored to promote safer and smoother travel experiences. UNWTO recommends destinations to focus in particular on the following interventions: stronger segmentation of travelers, improved visa application procedures and entry requirements, exploiting the opportunities of regional integration, as well, and n is not the least, the provision of accessible and precise information to the tourist.
Countries are also encouraged to not depend on reciprocal improvements, but rather to review their unilateral measures, this trend has not been as pronounced.
The favorable trend of recent years is the undeniable result of determined actions by governments, which were able to see the positive effects of facilitating visa issuance in terms of economic growth and job creation through tourism .
Research work of the WTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the impact of facilitating the issuance of visas to the G20 economies and the economies of the Asia Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) show clearly that the facilitation of issuance of visas may boost demand, increase exports and create additional jobs.

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