Europe’s tourism to benefit from improved EU visa rules. ECTAA strongly welcomes and supports the intentions of the European Commission to explore ways of improving and simplifying the EU Schengen visa rules to facilitate travel for third country nationals wishing to visit Europe.
Europe’s tourism to benefit from improved EU visa rules. In a strategic Communication1 adopted on 8 November, the European Commission has announced intentions of exploring a number of initiatives within the EU visa code aimed at facilitating travel for legitimate travellers, such as tourists.
Today the procedures for applying for a visa for short stays within the Schengen states, as laid down in the EU visa code, are excessively burdensome, complicated and costly. According to a survey carried out by ETOA3, 48% of visa applicants are dissatisfied with the EU visa procedures and a staggering 21% of potential tourists give up their travel plans to Europe due to visa requirements. That translates into 3,8 million visitors that Europe has foregone in 2011.
ECTAA has been advocating for a long time the simplification of the visa rules to boost tourism from emerging markets, such as the Russia, China, India and South Africa. Said President of ECTAA, Mr. Boris Zgomba, at the European Tourism Forum in Cyprus on 24-25 October: “The direct costs related to visa fees and travel expenses, and the indirect costs, such as wait and travel times, to obtain a visa can be a real deterrent to would-be travellers”.
The plans to improve and simplify the visa rules fit very well with the overall objective of the Commission to retain Europe as number one destination in the world. ECTAA is very encouraged by the fact that, for the first time, the Commission’s services responsible for the Schengen visa code recognise the importance of taking economic considerations, notably the tourism dimension, into account when adopting decisions on visa policy.