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World tourism council CEO calls for easing visa application procedures

XINHUA – Chief executive officer (CEO) of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Julia Simpson said the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was well underway while urging governments to further ease visa application procedures.

Governments should work to ease visa restrictions and accelerate the process of visa applications in a bid to further support international tourism, suggested Simpson, who is also the council’s president, on the sidelines of the 23rd WTTC Global Summit in Rwanda’s capital Kigali from November 1 to 3.

Latest data from WTTC and its partner Oxford Economics show that global travel is surging back, with all regions recovering faster than previously expected and especially Asia-Pacific leading the way.

“I’m really pleased to say that in 2023 we’re going to be back to 2019 levels, some regions are already exceeding 2019 numbers. Travel and tourism is growing more than double the rate of global gross domestic product. It’s a growth sector,” Simpson said. Under the theme ‘Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future’, this year’s WTTC event brought together thousands of industry leaders and experts and key government representatives in a bid to support the sector’s growth and move to a safer, more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

Simpson also emphasised that the key to the future of tourism lies in “regenerative tourism”, which aims at promoting a more sustainable way of travelling and making sure the cultural heritage, local traditions and environment are conserved from one generation to the next.

The WTTC, founded in 1990, is a global authority on the economic and social contribution of travel and tourism.

As a nonprofit organisation based in London, its members include more than 200 CEOs, chairpersons, and presidents of the world’s leading private-sector travel and tourism businesses.

Tourists take a selfie near the Hong Kong skyline. PHOTO: AP