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UNWTO Records 16 Percent Growth On Visa Openness in 2015

By Laolu Adeyemi
23 January 2016   |   12:05 am
Respites may have come the way of many tourists across the globe as the sustained effort made by World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to reduce Visa issuance problem has started yielding fruits. The effort made by the UNWTO to remove visa issuance impediment from the path of many tourists has yielded about 16 percent improvement between…

Travel and Tourism

Respites may have come the way of many tourists across the globe as the sustained effort made by World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to reduce Visa issuance problem has started yielding fruits.

The effort made by the UNWTO to remove visa issuance impediment from the path of many tourists has yielded about 16 percent improvement between 2008 and 2015.

This achievement means more people can be encouraged to travel on vacation and increase the international tourism receipts.

According to UNWTO’s latest Visa Openness Report, the share of tourists obtaining a visa prior to travelling continues to decline and is at its lowest level ever. In 2015, 39 percent of the world population could travel for tourism without obtaining a traditional visa prior to departure as compared to only 23 percent in 2008.

“On the average, 18 percent of the world’s population was able to travel to a destination without a visa in 2015, while another 15 percent could receive a visa on arrival and six percent was able to obtain E-Visas.

“We are pleased to see that a growing number of governments around the world think likewise,” the statement added.

Speaking on this development, the Secretary- General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO,) Taleb Rifai says UNWTO has been long advocating for the need to advance travel facilitation as a means to promote tourism development and multiply its socio-economic benefits.

Rifai said: Prioritizing travel facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism.

Research carried out by UNWTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the impact of visa facilitation on the G20 economies, as well as on the economies of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), clearly shows that visa facilitation can boost demand, grow exports and create additional jobs.

In its statement issued by a Senior Media officer, Ruth Gomez, UNWTO claimed that overall, emerging economies continue to be more open than advanced economies.

“At the regional level, South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania remain the most open areas while Central Africa, North Africa and North America were in 2015 the most restrictive sub-regions”.

Stating that the current security challenges should not deter world from advancing visa facilitation, Rifai argued that enhancement of security and facilitation of tourists travel should always go hand in hand.

In fact, at a moment when safety and security are top of the agenda for all of us, we need to work closer together to promote a safe, secure and seamless travel environment by using the possibilities offered by technology and international cooperation in data sharing,” he added.

Although much has been done, several areas of opportunity remain for destinations worldwide to promote a safer and more seamless travel experience.

UNWTO recommends destinations to focus in particular in a stronger segmentation of travelers, in improving visa application processes and entry procedures, in making use of regional integration opportunities, and last but not least, on providing precise and accessible information for tourist.

The global organisation encouraged countries of the world not to depend on reciprocal improvements, but rather revise their unilateral measures, a tendency which is proving to be stronger than ever.

“The positive evolution registered in recent years is the clear result of determined actions taken by governments who have seen the positive impact of visa facilitation in terms of economic growth and job creation through tourism”.