Visa fa­cil­i­ta­tion in SA Friend or foe?

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

The Unit ed Nati ons ’ World Travel Or­ga­nis ati on

(UNWTO) has been a strong ad­vo­cate of visa fa­cil­i­ta­tion as a way for coun­tries to ben­e­fit from in­creased vis­i­tor num­bers and the pos­i­tive eco­nomic spin-offs. Ac­cord­ing to i t s l at­est Visa

62% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion re­quired a tra­di­tional visa prior to de­par­ture in 2014, down from 77% in 2008. In 2014, 19% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion was able to en­ter a des­ti­na­tion with­out a visa, while 16% could re­ceive a visa on ar­rival, as com­pared to 17% and 6% in 2008. Over half of all im­prove­ments made in the last four years were from “visa re­quired” to “visa on ar­rival”.

South Africa, how­ever, is mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to ac­quire visas, re­quir­ing po­ten­tial vis­i­tors to ap­ply for visas in per­son at a South African em­bassy or con­sulate in their home coun­tries.

UNWTO sec­re­tary-gen­eral Taleb Ri­fai says that visa fa­cil­i­ta­tion is “cen­tral to stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation through tourism. Although there is much room for i mprove­ment, we are pleased to see that a grow­ing num­ber of gov­ern­ments around the world is tak­ing de­ci­sive steps in this re­gard”. Some of the most open sub­re­gions in the world are South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Ocea­nia.

Re­search by UNWTO and the WTTC shows that the G20 economies could boost their in­ter­na­tional tourist num­bers by an ad­di­tional 122m, gen­er­ate an ex­tra $206bn (R2.36tr) in tourism ex­ports and cre­ate over 5m ad­di­tional jobs by im­prov­ing visa pro­cesses and en­try for­mal­i­ties.

The same re­search car­ried out for the APEC (Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co- op­er­a­tion) and the ASEAN (As­so­ci­a­tion for South-East Asian Na­tions) coun­tries in­di­cates that visa fa­cil­i­ta­tion could gen­er­ate im­por­tant gains for both groups, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of 2.6m jobs in APEC and 650 000 jobs in ASEAN.

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