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UNWTO: Visa-free Travel on the Rise

Passport/visaThe number of tourists traveling the world visa-free is growing, paving the way for further growth of the sector, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reports.

Approximately 18 percent of the world’s population was able to travel without a visa in 2015, as revealed by the UNWTO’s latest Visa Openness Report, with another 15 percent able to get a visa on arrival and 6 percent obtaining eVisas.

According to the report, the number of tourists in need of a visa prior to travel is at its lowest level ever with emerging economies displaying more openness than advanced economies. In 2015, 39 percent of the global population could travel for tourism without obtaining a visa prior to departure as compared to only 23 percent in 2008.

South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania are the most open areas, while Central Africa, North Africa and North America were in 2015 the most restrictive.

“Prioritizing travel facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism. We are pleased to see that a growing number of governments around the world think likewise” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

“At a moment when safety and security are top of the agenda for all of us, we need to work closer together to promote a safe, secure and seamless travel environment by using the possibilities offered by technology and international cooperation in data sharing,” Mr Rifai added.

In efforts to facilitate visa-free travel in a secure environment, the UNWTO recommends destinations focus on the stronger segmentation of travelers, improving visa application processes and entry procedures, making use of regional integration opportunities and providing precise and accessible information to tourists.

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