UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has joined industry voices in support of the decision taken by the Obama Administration to implement the necessary measures to improve visa and foreign visitor processing in order to create jobs and spur economic growth in the USA.
“It is extremely encouraging to see President Obama calling for a coordinated policy to support a prosperous and secure tourism sector in the USA and, in particular, his recognition of the need to advance travel facilitation by enhancing and expediting visa procedures,” said Mr. Rifai.
“For every job created in tourism another 1.5 jobs are created in other sectors and thus this is a key moment to support the sector. Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be a vital tool to grow the tourism economy and create jobs. This objective is of particular relevance at a time in which economies are looking to stimulate their exports and economic growth but have limited capacity to use fiscal policy instruments,” he added.
As destinations worldwide look to stimulate travel demand under pressing economic conditions, UNWTO has been urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation. Despite the strides made so far there is still much room for progress in the area of travel facilitation, namely in terms of creating better access for new and growing source markets.
Travel facilitation has been identified by UNWTO, together with industry organizations such as the World Travel &Tourism Council (WTTC), as main priority in 2012. UNWTO advises countries to make the most of information and communication technologies in improving visa application and processing formalities, as well as the timings of visa issuance.
The USA ranks first in the world in terms of international tourism receipts, with foreign exchange from tourism reaching US$ 104 billion in 2010. Its share of global international tourism earnings has nonetheless declined from 17% in 2000 to 11% in 2010, with travel restrictions following September 11 often pointed to as one of the reasons for the decline.