Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International addressed global business and travel industry leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos to urge governments to move quickly to adopt “Smart Visa” policies which stimulate global travel, create new jobs and spur economic development. The two companies represent more than 7,000 hotels in 90 countries, which include 600,000 employees at these owned, managed and franchised properties. They are working together with the World Economic Forum Governors for the aviation, travel and tourism industry to promote global action toward “Smart Visa” policies regionally by 2015 and globally by 2020.
“In 2012, the UN World Tourism Organization reported that more than one billion people traveled outside their borders – a tremendous catalyst for global commerce and new jobs,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide.
“While we recognize that security remains a top concern, we call on the world leaders here at Davos to be visionary about a future world of interconnected markets where moving travelers more easily will allow more people to see the world and result in 2 billion world travelers in the next decade,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International.
Many countries are recognizing the economic benefits of international travel and tourism and making secure and convenient travel a policy priority, including Turkey, which has more than doubled international visitation in a decade by providing visas on arrival; China, which has implemented visa-free travel for three days to Beijing for 45 countries; Russia, which is encouraging visa-free travel to and from the European Union; and Australia and the United Arab Emirates, which have been utilizing electronic visas, where the process is on-line and takes minutes, not days or weeks. The ASEAN nations are moving to a common regional visa to promote economic development.
Last year, President Obama announced the development of a national travel and tourism policy. Since then, the United States has made significant progress, with an increase in international arrivals as the visa waiver program was expanded to Taiwan and wait times for in-person interviews, most notably in China, Brazil, and Mexico, were brought down to under one week.
Globally, at nearly $6 trillion in 2011, or 9.1 percent of total worldwide GDP, travel and tourism contributes more to world economies than some of the largest manufacturing sectors, including automotive and chemicals. The industry directly employs 98 million people, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Visit Hilton Worldwide or Marriott International for more information. For information on the World Economic Forum, visit www.weforum.org.