Taleb Rifai, the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), believes that countries should insist on more liberal travel rules in order to promote inbound tourism, Reuters is reporting. Specifically, Rifai believes that France and Germany would hurt themselves and Europe by pressing for stepped-up border controls in the travel-free Schengen region.
The two nations have proposed that Schengen countries get more leeway in extreme cases to suspend the pact, which permits visa-free travel across 26 EU and non-EU countries, to ensure tighter security within the European Union.
Rifai disagrees. "The Schengen zone is depriving itself of tremendous potential of more tourists (and) more benefits by actually insisting on procedures and formalities that belong to the 19th century," he told the newssource. European Union states already have the power to allow the reintroduction of border controls for 30 days if there is a specific threat to security or public order.
He cited the example of Turkey, which saw the number of tourists from Russia nearly double after it agreed in 2009 to grant them visas upon arrival.