To facilitate and promote Travel & Tourism, the Mexican government made significant developments in its visa policies. Starting in May 2010, the government introduced an extension of the visa waiver to leverage third country visas, notably the US visa (in 2010) and the Schengen visa (in 2011). What’s more, new immigration policies enabled US citizens and residents to visit Mexico visa-free and a 24-hour online visa was implemented for Brazil, Russia and China. In 2012, Mexico also granted visa exemptions for nationals of Pacific Alliance countries, notably Chile, Peru and Colombia.
Given the high level of security checks undertaken by the aforementioned countries to obtain a visa, the Mexican government trusts that the approved individuals using these third-party visas are safe to visit Mexico.
The implementation of these policies led to a 1.5 million increase in international arrivals from 143 nations, including a 51.1% increase from Brazil and 85.6% from Russia.
WTTC estimates that these policies contributed to the growth in international arrivals from 23.3 million to 32.1 million between 2010 and 2015 and effectively led to a 17% uplift in inbound demand, which enabled the creation of 190,000 new jobs.
People's Republic of China
A unique gateway transit visa to boost tourism in China has been implemented in select Chinese cities rather than at the national level; enabling foreign travellers transiting through China within 144 hours to reach another country of destination to benefit of the 144-hour Transit Visa Exemption. The Visa exemption is available to citizens of the 53 countries that are eligible for the 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption, however, the number of participating cities is more limited.
The 144-hour Transit Visa Exemption was first introduced to three cities in East China, namely, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing. As of December 2017, it was expanded to Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin and Qinhuangdao. Authorities have announced that the visa exemption will be to South China, specifically to Guangzhou, Jieyang and Shenzhen.
United States of America
To achieve a more efficient, secure and streamlined process, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the leadership of the Custom and Border Protection Agency (CBP) successfully shifted from the use of paper-based landing cards (1-94 forms) to electronic ones. The transition, which started in 2013, meant that international travellers no longer had to complete the I-94 landing card; making the traveller’s journey more seamless, while creating direct savings for CBP, air and sea carriers.
The shift to an automated process enabled CBP to eliminate duplicative data collection by leveraging information already collected via the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), the visa process or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and officer input, such as class of admission and authorisation dates.
The automation of the I-94 forms was estimated by CBP to have enabled net savings of a $15.5 million annually. These benefits result from lower contract cost primarily and some savings in printing, and storage. Freed up personnel time was also redeployed to higher priority activities. CBP estimated the value of traveller time savings in 2013 to reach between $55 and $83 million. The total estimated yearly benefits of this shift have been estimated between $72 million to $100 million in 2013 and between $130 million to $185 million in 2016.
To ensure that this transition was widely understood, CBP undertook extensive outreach programmes to inform local, state and other federal government agencies, employers, academic institutions and other benefit granting organisations, as well as the general public. CBP also created an online repository where travellers can retrieve and print their arrival records, access up to five years of travel history to the United States, pay for land border landing cards, and check their admission status.