The easing of visa regulations could create up to 2.6 million new jobs in the Asia Pacific region by 2016, a new study has found.
The joint report the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which was unveiled this week at a meeting of APEC countries in Bali, revealed that while progress has been made in the implementation of new visa processes in recent years, 21% of the international tourists expected to arrive into APEC countries between 2014 and 2016 would still be required to obtain a traditional visa prior to travel.
And the report asserts that by facilitating visas for these tourists, APEC nations could create 2.6m new jobs by 2016 and generate an additional 57m international tourist arrivals, who would likely spend an extra US$89bn while visiting APEC destinations.
The APEC meeting was hosted by Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, who said APEC members were aware of the importance of the visa issue, following the 2011 launch of the APEC Travel Facilitation Initiative.
“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… there is an attempt of coordination across for a and we hope to end up with some action plans on visa and travel facilitation,” she commented.
Addressing the Bali event, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, 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”.
The UNWTO-WTTC said in a joint statement that while “great strides” had been made in recent decades to facilitate travel, there are still “important areas of opportunity” with which to improve visa processes.
These include improving the delivery of information, differentiating treatment of tourist travel, instituting eVisa programmes and establishing regional visa agreements for visa facilitation.