Marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is urging governments to adopt smarter visa and border security policies to promote travel and tourism as a driver of jobs and economic growth. Over the last ten years, the WTTC says, barriers to travel have become greater despite the use of technology and risk-based security.
After the 9/11 incident the security of air transport for both passengers and freight has been transformed and visa regulations heightened, the WTTC said. "As a result, the aggravation factor for travelers has increased immensely. High costs and lengthy procedures for obtaining visas, bans on liquids in hand baggage and intrusive body scanners are just some of the obstacles travelers have to overcome."
David Scowsill, president and CEO of WTTC says, “Ten years after 9/11 the sympathy of the world is rightly focussed on the families who were impacted by this terrible tragedy. The enhanced security processes put in place post 9/11 were entirely appropriate as a short-term response to a very dramatic situation. Over the last ten years, however, the barriers to travel have become even greater, rather than diminishing through better use of technology and passenger profiling.”
Processing times for those lucky enough to obtain visas to visit many countries can run in to hundreds of days, and airport security has become an unpleasant experience, the WTTC says.
Rather than welcoming visitors with their export dollars, many countries are closing the door in the face of travelers, WTTC said. "It is time for a fundamental change in the minds of governments - balancing security needs with freedom to travel by moving away from the current approach to a faster implementation of visa waiver and trusted traveller programs."
“Tourism accounts for 258 million jobs and nine percent of the world’s GDP - it is a driver of global economic recovery. It is vital that countries take the necessary steps to protect their borders; but equally important that governments recognize that smarter policies exist to achieve that aim,” Scowsill said.