ETW Staff – Mumbai
A new report by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that visa facilitation could create up to 2.6 million new jobs in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies by 2016. The report was presented on the occasion of the APEC High Level Policy dialogue on Travel Facilitation.
The impact of visa facilitation in APEC Economies indicates that although there has been successful collaboration and advances across the APEC region to facilitate visas, including progressive approaches to implement new visa policies, 21 per cent of expected international tourists arriving into APEC over the period 2014-2016 would still be required to obtain a traditional visa prior to travel under current visa policies.
Mari Elka Pangestu, minister of tourism and creative economy, Republic of Indonesia, said, “The challenge now is to establish cooperation between officials working in tourism, finance, customs, immigration, security, transportation and airport authorities which are in different working groups. In 2013, through this High Level Policy Dialogue on Travel Facilitation held in Bali, for the fist time, there is an attempt of coordination across fora and we hope to end up with some action plans on visa and travel facilitation.”
Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO said, “This report clearly shows that placing visa facilitation as a national priority can translate into significant socio-economic benefits in terms of income and jobs generated by the growth of tourism demand. APEC has been a leading organisation in terms of regional integration and we believe that visa facilitation can contribute significantly to advance APEC’s objectives and the balanced growth of its economies.”
There are still important areas of opportunity, namely considering the possibilities to maximise the use of information and communication technologies in improving visa procedures. Further opportunities include improving the delivery of information, facilitating current processes to obtain visas, differentiated treatment to facilitate tourist travel, instituting eVisa programmes and establishing regional agreements for visa facilitation.