The leaders of the travel and tourism industry attending the World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC) 12th Global Summit in Tokyo, Japan, today actively committed to work together to have governments improve visa-entry procedures and systems in order to stimulate travel demand and create jobs.
By taking this action, the leaders from different sectors of the industry and regions agreed to speak with one voice to governments around the world compelling them to find better ways to balance the needs of sovereign security and the capacity of tourism to generate economic growth.
Led by a core group on stage and supported by senior members of the industry from within the audience, the WTTC Global Summit identified restrictive visa policies as a critical impediment to the growth of travel and tourism around the world.
Travel and tourism brings enormous benefits to communities and economies around the globe. It is a key contributor to economic growth and social development with aviation as the enabler for connectivity and access to markets. The travel and tourism industry today represents as much as 9 percent of global GDP and employs 255 million people worldwide.
As such, encouraging governments to take steps to improve visa procedures as an effective means to increase the flow of travelers and thus wealth, was identified as a priority focus for the newly-formed Travel Association Coalition - a collaboration between global tourism bodies to coordinate messaging and activities across the different tourism sectors.
Complicated, lengthy, and often expensive, visa processes are common across the world, with frequent vast differences in requirements for procedures and documentation. The industry leaders and the Tourism Ministers recognized how this brings constraints to prospective travelers.
WTTC and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have engaged in a study on the impact of visa facilitation on job creation across the G20 countries, which will provide the data needed to press the arguments for action. This will be presented at the forthcoming May meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 (Merida, Mexico) and aims to provide input into the G20 world leaders meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, in June as they look for alternatives to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
This determination to speak in unison on such a central issue will substantially enhance the strength of the industry's influence with government policy-makers and further the need for governments to fully appreciate the collective impact of the industry for job growth and sustainable economic development.