Ease of Travel means ensuring that people can cross international borders safely and efficiently for tourism purposes. It means smarter visa processes, more visa waiver agreements, and trusted traveller programmes. There is a need for countries to maintain border security, but there needs to be the appropriate 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 law-abiding 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 Ease of 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.
In September 2015, WTTC launched a social media campaign titled I AM TRAVEL with the aim of raising awareness of its strategic mission to create Ease of Travel, as well as getting the conversation started about the issues of visas and travel restrictions. The campaign ran for a month, starting from 22 September 2015.
Four writers also shared their own personal experiences of travel restriction and why Ease of Travel matters. Below are the blog posts from the I AM TRAVEL campaign, along with the WTTC I Am Travel post outlining the motivation of the campaign.