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WTTC calls on governments to reduce visa controls

WTTC calls on governments to reduce visa controls

On the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling on governments to adopt smarter visa and border security policies to promote travel and tourism as a driver of jobs and economic growth.

After the 9/11 incident the security of air transport for both passengers and freight has been transformed and visa regulations heightened.

As a result, the aggravation factor for travellers has increased immensely.

High costs and lengthy procedures for obtaining visas, bans on liquids in hand baggage and intrusive body scanners are just some of the obstacles travellers have to overcome.

WTTC president David Scowsill said: “Ten years after 9/11 the sympathy of the world is rightly focused on the families who were impacted by this terrible tragedy.

“The enhanced security processes put in place post 9/11 were entirely appropriate as a short-term response to a very dramatic situation.

“Over the last ten years, however, the barriers to travel have become even greater, rather than diminishing through better use of technology and passenger profiling.”

Processing times for those lucky enough to obtain visas to visit many countries can run in to hundreds of days, and airport security has become an unpleasant experience.

Rather than welcoming visitors with their export dollars, many countries are closing the door in the face of travellers.

It is time for a fundamental change in the minds of governments - balancing security needs with freedom to travel by moving away from the current approach to a faster implementation of visa waiver and trusted traveller programmes.

“Tourism accounts for 258 million jobs and nine per cent of the world’s GDP - it is a driver of global economic recovery.

“It is vital that countries take the necessary steps to protect their borders; but equally important that governments recognise that smarter policies exist to achieve that aim,” Scowsill concluded.