April 20, 2024

Global Travel Openness Back To Pre-Pandemic Levels

Tourism Visa Openness Index Released

UN Tourism’s latest report on global visa policies reveals a significant milestone as international travel regulations rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

The Tourism Visa Openness report provides insights into the evolving landscape of travel facilitation worldwide.

The report, released on March 12, 2024, includes the Tourism Visa Openness Index, indicating how destinations facilitate tourism and a country’s openness regarding visa facilitation.

Additionally, mobility scores gauge the impact of visa policies on citizens globally, alongside an in-depth analysis of visa policy reciprocity.

Key findings from the report indicate a resurgence in international travel openness:

Return To Pre-pandemic Openness

Following the lifting of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, destinations’ openness to international travel has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. The report notes the emergence of new forms of travel facilitation, such as ‘nomadic visas’, in response to the pandemic.

Decline In Traditional Visa Requirements

The percentage of people worldwide requiring traditional visas for travel has decreased steadily, from 77% in 2008 to 47% in 2023.

Visa-Exempt Travel

Approximately 21% of the world’s population does not require a visa, up from 17% in 2008.

Visa On Arrival And Evisas

The availability of visa-on-arrival and evisa options has increased, with 14% and 18% of the world’s population benefiting from these facilities.

Region-specific insights highlighted in the report include: Asia and the Pacific are leading in openness scores, South-East Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean are identified as the most open sub-regions, and significant increases in openness have been observed in South Asia and West Africa since 2018, Central and North Africa, North America, and Northern and Western Europe were noted as the most restrictive regions, and visa exemptions prevalent in the Caribbean and Central America.

The report also noted that visa-on-arrival policies are standard in East Africa, South Asia, South-East Asia, and West Africa, and traditional visa requests in the Middle East decreased from 71% in 2015 to 57% in 2023, and evisas are prevalent in West and East Africa and South Asia.

The report emphasises the importance of visa policy improvements in fostering tourism growth.

It offers recommendations for streamlined travel: increased integration of tourism perspectives into visa strategies, targeted visa-exemption programmes for low-risk traveller markets, expanded visa-on-arrival facilities, clear communication on visa policies, streamlined visa application processes and accelerated processing times.

These recommendations aim to optimise entry procedures and enhance the visitor experience, promoting global tourism growth.

Featured image: Travellers purchase train tickets from vending machines at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain, on February 25, 2024. Credit: Arnold Pinto

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers the latest business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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