We’re creating a more connected travel industry, underpinned by sustainability and long-term investor relations.
At this week’s The Future of Travel event, moderator John Andrews ended his interview with UNWTO General Secretary Taleb Rifai with a fanciful question, “If you had a magic wand that you could wave and change one thing to improve travel, what would that be?”
His answer was immediate. He’d facilitate visas.
It was a fitting end to his remarks on the positive impact of the travel industry, which over the last 50 years has grown from 25 million to 1.1 billion international travelers.
As he explained, the travel and IT revolutions are changing the game, making the world smaller and helping many people to understand that this is our world and we’re in it together.
Yet visa restrictions
make travel more difficult for many people around the world, particularly as the weight of travel shifts from the North and West to the East and South. With about 200 countries in the world, citizens of some countries only need visas to visit 25, yet citizens of other countries may be required to get visas in as many as 175.
The issue of visa restriction reappeared throughout the day. Wakanow.com founder Obinna Ekezie explained his 3-week hassle to get a 5-day visa to attend the conference, and also how his company is working with different destinations in the Middle East and Caribbean to facilitate travel for Nigerians.
Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet co-founder, closed the day with a humorous review of his experience as a traveler, including his trouble with visas in the US Virgin Islands and India .