Visas to create 2.6m jobs for APEC members

By ( Xinhua )

Updated: 2013-10-06

BALI, Indonesia - Centered on a booming travel industry, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies could create 2.6 million more jobs and generate an impressive $89 billion in earnings by 2016 by promoting visa facilitation, a study released on the sidelines of APEC said on Sunday.

The report, "The Impact of Visa Facilitation in APEC Economies" released by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), indicates that although there has been successful collaboration across the APEC region to facilitate visas, 21 percent of expected international tourists still have to obtain a traditional visa prior to traveling.

Indonesian Tourism Minister Mari Pangestu highlighted the importance of expanding visa facilitation and pointed out that the challenge now is to establish cooperation among a wide range of institutions and officials.

"We have to bring together officials working in tourism, finance, customs, immigration, security, transportation and airport authorities who are in different working groups. This year for the first time there is an attempt at coordination and we hope to end up with a plan on visa and travel facilitation," she explained.

Both UNWTO and WTTC have been working on improving visa facilitation in collaboration with other international bodies including World Economic Forum and APEC.

The study points out that despite progress many countries still need to improve delivery of information, facilitate current process to obtain visas and institute eVisa programs.    

"This report clearly shows that placing visa facilitation as a national priority can translate into significant socio-economic benefits in terms of income and jobs generated by the growth of tourism demand. APEC has been a leading organization in regional integration and we believe visa facilitation can advance growth among its members," said UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai.


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