Freedom to Travel means ensuring that people have the right to cross international borders safely and efficiently for tourism purposes. It means smarter visa processes, more visa waiver agreements, and trusted traveller programmes. Of course, we recognise that there is a need for countries to maintain border security, but there needs to be a better balance between sovereign security concerns and the needs of international leisure and business travellers to pass through immigration with the minimum of hassle.
We have recently seen unprecedented changes and improvements in visa facilitation around the world. More and more countries are taking deliberate steps to ease visa restrictions in order to increase visitor numbers and improve competitiveness. Yet despite these positive moves there are still too many nationalities who find it too complex and too difficult to cross borders as international tourists. Visa facilitation is an ongoing priority for WTTC - convincing governments of the huge economic advantages generated by policies that encourage inbound visitors Research forms the backbone of our drive towards greater Freedom to Travel, and a collaborative approach with UNWTO continues to be the key to success.
WTTC/UNWTO research proves that tourism-friendly visa policies create millions more jobs and generate billions in revenue for economies. Never before has the link between easing tourist visa procedures and the growth of our sector’s GDP contributions been more apparent. Our joint research in 2013, for example, forecast that the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) region would gain up to $12 billion in international tourism receipts within a three year period as a result of improvements to visa facilitation. The world is a better place if we have Freedom to Travel – the freedom to celebrate the immense diversity of our planet; the freedom to do business; and the freedom to create jobs and to generate prosperity.