Issues and Trends (1H2016)

VISA - Balancing Easy Access with Safety & Security
Authored by John Koldowski

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This edition of PATA’s Issues and Trends deals with the often sensitive issue of visas and national security, citing several examples of where both are used in a mutually constructive way to allow foreign arrivals without any compromise to national security.

Japan is featured as the most recent country to offer visa-free entry for specific nationals of Southeast Asia economies, particularly Malaysia and Thailand. The impact of the change in visa policy for nationals of those two nations is shown to have been extremely positive in terms of arrival numbers and, as a consequence, tourism-related revenues.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the USA is also highlighted and shows, in particular, the immediate impact of entry into the programme of Chile and the subsequent increase in arrivals from that source market. Again, this has been initiated without any loss in national security.

In addition, the impact of India’s move to a much more streamlined Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) is considered in terms of the impact on uptake by travellers. The figures show an immediate and very significant increase in foreign arrivals taking advantage of that initiative.

The issue ends with questions as to how – instead of fighting visa policy – the travel and tourism sector might be better placed to work with such policies in innovative ways to satisfy the needs of foreign visitors whilst meeting the demands for appropriate national security.