Ahead of the G20 world leaders’ meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, the UNWTO and WTTC have called on the leaders to consider tourism as an engine for economic growth and stimulating the global economy.
Increasing tourism demand through visa facilitation can be central to stimulating job creation, a priority given the high current unemployment levels.
According to a research study conducted by the two organisations, presented at the T20 Ministers’ Meeting in Merida last month, G20 economies could boost their international tourist numbers by an additional 122 million, generate an extra US$206 billion in tourism exports and create over five million additional jobs by 2015 by improving visa processes and entry formalities.
Preliminary findings show that of the 656 million international tourists who visited G20 countries in 2011, an estimated 110 million needed a visa, many of whom deterred from travelling by the cost, waiting time and difficulty of obtaining a visa.
Facilitating visas for these tourists, many from some of the world’s fastest growing source markets such as the BRICs, could stimulate demand, spending and ultimately create millions of new jobs in the G20 economies.
UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai and WTTC president David Scowsill agreed that: “Tourism has the potential to create millions of new jobs and billions of dollars of GDP in G20 countries.
“We call on the world leaders to take the necessary steps to realise that potential through removing unnecessary visa restrictions.
“We applaud the actions of the Mexican Government in allowing holders of US visas to enter Mexico and the Obama Administration for committing to improve visa processing from emerging markets.
“Steps like these towards visa facilitation can result in big economic benefits. By facilitating visas, the G20 countries stand to gain five million jobs at a time of rampant unemployment across the world.
“These are in addition to the hundreds of millions of direct and indirect jobs already being supported every day by the sector.
The added: “In an era of globalisation, States have the opportunity to promote tourism as an economic activity, while maintaining national security and we invite them to consider leveraging new technology, including electronic visa processes and delivery, as appropriate to the visa regime of each State, to make travel more accessible, convenient and efficient.”