VISA PROCEDURES ON THE AGENDA

Leaders of the Travel & Tourism industry who attended the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 12th Global Summit in Tokyo, in April are actively committed to working together to improve global visa-entry procedures and systems in order to stimulate travel and create jobs.

Encouraging governments to take steps to improve visa procedures as an effective means of increasing the flow of travellers, and thus wealth, was identified as a priority focus for the newly formed Travel Association Coalition – a collaboration between global tourism bodies to coordinate messaging and activities across the different tourism sectors.

Delegates at the first United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and ATM industry forum in Dubai in May, agreed that visa procedure simplification is key to encouraging tourists to the region, as well as offering multiple destination visas to keep costs and form filling to a minimum.

WTTC and the UNWTO are already engaged in a study on the impact of visa facilitation on job creation across the G20 countries. Tourism ministers of these nations (called T20), met in late May together with the heads of UNWTO, WTTC, and others to finalise a proposed draft to the G20 about visa procedures. The initiative is supported by the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP). The ‘Facilitation of Tourism’ and particularly e-visas, or ‘streamlined travel’, is one of three priorities ICTP has identified as key elements in its green growth and quality advocacy agenda, along with sustainable aviation expansion and fair taxes. The data will be presented at the G20 world leaders meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, this month (June) as they look for alternatives to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

The cost of multiple visas has been identified as being a main decision factor when choosing a holiday, especially cruises which dock in various countries, as the cost can run into several hundreds of dollars if single visas are required. The GCC are actively looking at creating multiple entry visas for cruise tourists; there are already some joint visa schemes, such as a newly established dual Jordan/Oman one to facilitate cross-border tourism.