WTTC chairman calls for further action on global visas
Lawless was speaking at the Skift Europe Forum hosted today in London

WTTC chairman calls for further action on global visas

World Travel & Tourism Council chairman Gerald Lawless has urged governments around the world to improve visa applications to boost freedom to travel.

The use of electronic visa systems would greatly enhance international travel, he explained.

He urged countries to follow the best practice of destinations such as Australia, as well as the Schengen free travel area and the American ESTA system.

Visas on arrival would also be a tremendous benefit to tourist, Lawless added.

Pointing to his own experience, as the former chief executive of Jumeirah Group in Dubai, he pointed to the emirate’s decision to offer visas on arrival to China and Russia and the resulting spike in visitor numbers.

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“The whole use of an electronic visa platform, on a voluntary basis from travellers, could be something that could really evolve,” Lawless added.

“A global clearing house for international visas is technically possible.”

Taking the visa systems of Australia, the UK, ESTA, and Schengen, and linking these into a common platform could be a positive place to start, he explained, with others applying to join this original body.

The WTTC was formed in 1991 by a group of tourism leaders who felt that the contribution of the sector to economies and job creation was not being recognised.

Its objectives were to use empirical evidence to promote awareness of tourism’s economic contribution; to expand markets in harmony with the environment; and to reduce barriers to growth.

WTTC is the only global body that brings together all major players in the tourism sector, enabling them to speak with one voice to governments and international bodies.