Visa facilitation by G20 could increase international tourism
Reducing barriers to tourism represents a clear opportunity for governments of G20 countries to encourage visitor spend, thereby stimulating job creation - Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism
The development and implementation of visa facilitation processes by G20 countries could generate up to 112 million additional international tourists by 2015. It also has the potential to increase tourism receipts by as much as US$206 billion and create up to 5.1 million additional jobs during the next 3 years.
This is according to research by the UNWTO and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), presented at the 4th T20 Ministers Meeting (Ministers of Tourism of G20 countries) held in Merida, Mexico from 15 - 16 May 2012.
South Africa's Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who has just returned from the meeting, said that the T20 ministers supported the e-visa concept as an opportunity to enhance security and facilitate travel.
International tourism contributes substantially to the economies of the G20 nations. In 2011, 656\ million international travellers visited G20 countries (67% of all international tourist arrivals), spending about US$830 billion and generating 78 million jobs.
Of these, according to the research, an estimated 109 million tourists originated from source markets that require a visa. This represents 17% of the total international tourism market to the G20.
‘Reducing barriers to tourism represents a clear opportunity for governments of G20 countries to encourage visitor spend, thereby stimulating job creation,’ said Van Schalkwyk.
The final declaration of the T20 Tourism Ministers Meeting proposed that leveraging new technology, including electronic visa processes and delivery, could make travel more accessible, convenient and efficient without a decline in national security.
It also proposed that bilateral, regional and international cooperation on visa and other travel facilitation arrangements could be explored to allow international visitors to move more freely and efficiently.
‘We therefore propose, at each member states' discretion, the exploration, and possible implementation of bilateral, regional and international visa facilitation programmes and other travel facilitation regimes which benefit the entire region,’ the declaration stated.
The proposal also encouraged the G20 to recognise the role of travel and tourism as a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development, and commit to travel facilitation as a conduit for these.