UN Tourism reports openness is back to pre-pandemic levels

UN Tourism has unveiled its latest insights in the Tourism Visa Openness report, revealing a resurgence to pre-pandemic levels of openness in international travel.

The report delves into the dynamic realm of travel facilitation, featuring the Tourism Visa Openness Index as a gauge of destinations’ receptivity to tourism and their visa facilitation policies. It also assesses global mobility scores, offering a comprehensive analysis of visa policies’ reciprocity.

Key highlights from the report include:

Reversion to Pre-pandemic Levels: The lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions has seen destinations’ receptivity to international travel bouncing back to levels reminiscent of pre-pandemic times. Notably, the pandemic has spurred the emergence of innovative travel facilitation measures like “nomadic visas”.

Decline in Conventional Visa Requirements: The proportion of global travelers requiring traditional visas has dwindled, dropping from 77% in 2008 to 59% in 2018, and further to 47% in 2023.

Visa-exempt Travel: A notable 21% of the global population now enjoys visa-exempt travel privileges, marking an increase from 17% in 2008 and 20% in 2018.

Visa on Arrival: The percentage of individuals eligible for visa on arrival has surged to 14%, climbing from 6% in 2008 and 15% in 2018.

eVisas: Access to eVisas has expanded to encompass 18% of the world population, witnessing a notable rise from 3% in 2013 and 7% in 2018.

The report meticulously examines visa regulations for tourism across regions, spotlighting:

Asia and the Pacific boast the highest openness score among all global regions. South East Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean emerging as the most open sub-regions. Noteworthy increases in openness witnessed in South Asia and West Africa since the previous report in 2018. Persistently restrictive regions include Central and North Africa, North America, and Northern and Western Europe. Prevalence of visa exemptions in the Caribbean and Central America. The common adoption of visa-on-arrival policies in East Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, and West Africa. A decline in traditional visa requests in the Middle East, from 71% of the global population in 2015 to 57% in 2023. Proliferation of eVisas in West and  East Africa and South Asia.

The report also offers recommendations aimed at streamlining travel:

Emphasizing the significance of visa policy enhancements in nurturing tourism growth. Advocating for the integration of tourism perspectives into visa strategies, targeted visa-exemption programs, and expanded visa-on-arrival facilities for low-risk traveller markets. Stressing the importance of clear communication on visa policies, along with streamlined application processes, expedited processing times, and optimized entry procedures to elevate the visitor experience.

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