SYDNEY: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to intensify efforts to spread the economic and social benefits of aviation by removing onerous barriers to the free movement of people across borders.
“Over the next 20 years, the number of passengers will double. That’s excellent news for the global economy, as air connectivity is a catalyst for job creation and GDP growth. But we will not get the maximum social and economic benefits from this growth if barriers to travel are not addressed and processes streamlined,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
There are many barriers to travel, ranging from visa restrictions and government information requirements to the capacity of current facilitation processes to absorb growing numbers of air travellers. IATA has evolved a comprehensive Open Borders Strategy to help governments work with industry to maintain the integrity of national borders while removing inefficiencies that prevent the industry from satisfying travel demand.
Research by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the impact of visa facilitation indicates that $89 billion in tourism receipts and 2.6 million jobs would be created in the Asia-Pacific region alone with the reduction of barriers to travel.
The IATA Open Borders Strategy has four main components:
- Reviewing Visa Requirements and Removing Unnecessary Travel Restrictions:
The goal is to remove unnecessary barriers to travel. Existing visa regimes are overly restrictive, expensive and inefficient, and will be unable to cope with forecast travel demand.
- Including travel facilitation as part of bilateral and regional trade negotiations: Free trade agreements have seen an expansion of goods and services moving across borders. This has stimulated economic growth for participating countries. Restrictive visa requirements are non-tariff barriers to trade, yet they are not normally addressed in trade discussions.
- Linking registered-traveller programs: Several states already operate registered traveller programs. Research shows that a large majority of travellers are willing to provide personal information in exchange for expedited handling in the travel process. Registered-traveller programs are a key component of risk-based security measures which help governments to use scarce resources with maximum efficiency. When these programs are linked (Canada-US for example) the efficiencies grow.
- Using API data more effectively and efficiently: Airlines spend millions of dollars providing Advance Passenger Information (API) as required by governments. Governments must process API data efficiently