G20 economies could boost their international tourist numbers by an additional 122 million, generate an extra $206 billion in tourism exports and create over five million additional jobs by 2015 if visa processes are improved, according to preliminary research presented on the occasion of the fourth T20 Ministers of Tourism Meeting held last month in Merida, Mexico.
Preliminary findings by UNWTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showed that of the 656 million international tourists who visited G20 countries last year, 110 million needed a visa. Meanwhile, millions more were deterred from traveling by the cost, waiting time and difficulty of obtaining a visa.
On his part, David Scowsill, WTTC president and CEO, said encouraging freedom to travel is a simple step that Governments around the world could take to encourage more travelers without compromising national security.
“For the first time, this report makes clear the extent of the opportunity—it cannot be ignored,” he said.
On the Greek side, it has been argued for some time now that the “visa problem” is one of the main factors that prevents tourism growth to Greece from the Chinese, Turkish, Indian and Russian markets.
Visa facilitation is expected to be an integral part of the agenda of the 2012 G20 Mexico Summit to be held this month.