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Southeast Asia still most open in travel facilitation – UN unit

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Southeast Asia has remained the most open sub-region in the world in terms of travel requirements and visa facilitation, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported.

According to UNWTO’s Visa Openness Report 2015, Southeast Asia remains the most open sub-region globally on the back of large number of visa on arrival (33 percent of the world’s population), number of visa exemptions (22 percent), and eVisa alternatives (11 percent).

“Prioritizing travel facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism. The positive evolution is the clear result of determined actions taken by governments who have seen the positive impact of visa facilitation through tourism,” UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said.

In the ASEAN economies, open reciprocity also grew five percentage points which shows that various economic blocs continue to push forward regional integration through policy changes, facilitating the free movement of people within their blocs.

Furthermore, UNWTO noted that emerging economies continue to be more open compared to advanced economies despite both showing an increase in openness index to boost demand, grow exports and create more jobs.

In 2015, 18 percent of the world’s population was able to travel to a destination without a visa, 15 percent received visa on arrival and six percent was able to obtain eVisas.

Moreover, international tourist arrivals in emerging-economy destinations including Southeast Asia is seen to grow at 4.4 percent yearly, double the 2.2 percent expected growth of advanced economies.

The UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030 forecasted that tourist arrivals will continue to grow at a sustained pace of 3.3 percent annually, reaching 1.8 billion by 2030.

Meanwhile, UNWTO said the current security challenges in various parts of the world should not deter the advancement of visa facilitation to fully reap the benefits of the increasing international tourist arrivals yearly.

“Enhancing security and facilitating tourism travel should always go hand in hand. We need to work together to promote a safe, secure and seamless travel environment by using the possibilities offered by technology and international cooperation in data sharing,” Rifai added.

ACIRC PERCENT RIFAI SOUTHEAST ASIA TALEB RIFAI TOURISM TOURISM TOWARDS UNITED NATIONS WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION UNWTO VISA VISA OPENNESS REPORT
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