Europe calls for visa reform at WTM

Europe is at a cross-roads. How open are the nations of Europe to welcoming those from beyond our borders? Some nations may choose a more restrictive approach to admitting foreigners in the future. Others may choose a more liberal approach.

This will take place at a conference at World Travel Market next week in London.

If European destinations are interested in growing their share of global tourism, then there is only one correct path to follow – that of increased openness. This does not mean that Europe should grant blanket permission for all to enter, and it certainly does not imply ignoring national security and immigration concerns. What it means is that Europe needs to make it easier than it is currently for leisure tourists and other legitimate travellers to come here and to come back again.

Europe is losing share of global tourism arrivals. Our visa regimes are a contributory factor in this decline. It is within our power to change this and to improve our continent’s tourism competitiveness. The European Travel Commission (ETC), representing 33 European National Tourist Organisations, has done the maths – there is a significant economic prize worth seizing.

The ETC firmly believes that visa reform will generate additional travel demand and economic value for European destinations. To quantify the impact of eased regulations on travel from major source markets, the ETC and Tourism Economics have undertaken a study that models the incremental gains that would flow from improved visa regimes for ‘Destination Europe’ for 10 priority source markets. The study, amongst other things, considers visitor arrivals, revenue, economic expansion and job creation.