The Price of Failing to Reform Visas: EUR114 Billion

LONDON, November 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

The European Travel Commission (ETC), the organisation responsible for promoting Europe as a destination, today demanded reform of the way visas are granted to leisure and business travellers, citing benefits to Europe's economy of EUR114 bn in export revenue and 615,000 new jobs by 2020.

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Peter De Wilde, President, ETC, said: "Europe is losing share of global tourism and our visa regimes are a contributory factor. Liberalisation is essential to maximise the benefit from global tourism growth. It's within our power to improve our tourism competitiveness - essential when Europe needs to create new employment, particularly amongst our youth."

Visitors from long-haul source markets are particularly valuable because they stay longer and spend more /day. However, Europe's visa regimes are among the most restrictive in the world. 56% of visitors from non-European markets in 2014 required a visa.

Mark Henry, Vice-President and Coordinator of ETC's visa advocacy work, explained visa reform is possible without compromising security or immigration control and explored three possible scenarios: First is the adoption of "Best Practice" improvements to ease administrative burdens for tourists, such as the implementation of simplified application processes, reduced fees, and longer durations. Second is introduction of new visa types, particularly electronic visas and visas on arrival. Third is growing the number of 'visa-waiver' countries.

According to Tourism Economics, reforming visas to adopt the 'Best Practice' policies for Europe's top ten, visa-constrained, priority markets would stimulate 3.4 million additional arrivals /year. This would generate EUR18.3 billion in associated spending up to 2020 and 95,000 new jobs.

New visa types (eVisa or visa on arrival) would deliver 8.5 million more visitors /year, EUR45 billion in additional spending and more than 200,000 additional jobs. The largest benefits would flow from a complete visa waiver for these markets, driving 21.8 million additional arrivals /year. By 2020, this would create EUR114 billion in new export revenue and 615,000 additional jobs.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recommended governments to embrace visa facilitation, proactively. Helen Marano, Vice-President Government and Industry Affairs, WTTC, said: "Visa facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism in Europe and worldwide." WTTC has studied the potential impact of visa reform on the G20 economies and assesses 3.1 million additional direct tourism-related jobs and 5.1 million jobs overall would be created. The G20 could see growth in tourist arrivals of 16% and an increase in international tourism receipts of 21% in just three years. This represents a gain of 112 million additional international tourists, spending US$206 billion.

Mark Henry concluded: "The only path is increased openness. The introduction of the Schengen Area in 1995 contributed significantly to boosting travel within Europe; we need to see it extended and reformed to make it much easier for legitimate travellers from long-haul markets to come here and to return again."

For further information, please contact Paul Baldwin on +44-(0)7920-207-880,


The European Travel Commission

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