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Date [ 2015-03-19, 05:14 ]

Making it easier for visitors come in.

Kuching town, venue of the ATF meeting.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Nancy Joseph = A new report published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that improving visa processes in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries could generate an extra 6 to 10 million visitors by 2016. The report was presented on the occasion of the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2014 held in Kuching, Malaysia in March 2015...

The Impact of Visa Facilitation in ASEAN Member States, shows that the region is one of the most open in the world in terms of tourist visa requirements. Collaboration between countries and recent advances across the region to facilitate visas, including progressive approaches to implement new visa policies, has proven very successful. This collaboration forms part of joint efforts to improve social integration within the region and to expand the national and regional travel and tourism sectors, resulting in increased investment in the sector and consequently job creations.

Despite these achievements, there are still areas for further improvement. According to the report, ASEAN stands to gain between 6 to 10 million additional international tourist arrivals by 2016 from improved visa facilitation. The additional receipts generated by these tourists could reach between US$7 and US$12 billion. Moreover, the total number of jobs created as a consequence of this increase is estimated to range from 333,000 to 654,000.

Presenting the report to the ATF 2014 National Tourism Organizations (NTOs), WTTC Vice-President of Government and Industry Affairs, Helen Marano, highlighted how the leaders at the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, agreed to cooperate on an ASEAN Common Visa Initiative, engaging the Tourism and other appropriate ministries for accomplishing this aspiration.

Addressing the ASEAN Ministers on the occasion of ATF, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said “I would like to comment ASEAN leaders for their vision in making travel facilitation a priority in advancing regional integration and economic development in ASEAN and call upon them to continue supporting this important agenda.” He added, “Indeed, although ASEAN is one of the most open regions in terms of tourist visas, this report clearly opens the opportunity to further promote easier visa policies as a means to generate economic growth, job creation and regional integration through tourism in the ASEAN economies.”.

David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said: “Encouraging freedom to travel is a key strategic priority for WTTC. Although the ASEAN countries already collaborate to encourage a better experience for the traveller, there is still more to do and greater economic benefits to be gained, as this report demonstrates. Better visa processes can reap immense economic benefits with increased tourism demand, tourist spending and job creation. Most importantly, better policies open the doors for better cross-cultural understanding.”

In spite of the great strides made in recent decades to facilitate tourist travel all over the world, there are still important areas of opportunity, namely considering the possibilities to maximize the use of information and communication technologies in improving visa procedures. Further opportunities include improving the delivery of information, facilitating current processes to obtain visas, differentiated treatment to facilitate tourist travel, instituting eVisa programmes and regional agreements for visa facilitation,

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