The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has released its annual report examining recent progress made in the Canadian visitor visa system, as well as ongoing challenges that visa documentation requirements create for the tourism industry.
“Gateway to Growth: 2016 Visitor Visa Progress Report” finds that important progress has been made in modernizing the visa system, but there are still areas in need of improvement.
“Over the course of the past four years TIAC has been successful in ensuring that the travel and tourism sector has a voice in developing an efficient traveller documentation process while maintaining necessary security precautions,” said TIAC president Charlotte Bell. “However, Canada continues to lag behind its competitors in terms of requirements, processing times and reciprocity programs. Canada slipped from 106th to 118th (out of 140) in its ease of travel documentation requirements in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.”
In recent years Canada has experienced dramatic growth from emerging markets whose citizens require visas. Together, visitor levels from Brazil, China, India and Mexico to Canada have grown by 43% since 2010. In order to maximize growth in these key markets, Canada must find ways to ease or eliminate such access barriers for legitimate travellers – especially in light of biometric requirements that are due to come online in 2018.
TIAC makes a number of recommendations in the report including: Use eTA program to loosen restrictions on low risk travellers from key markets like Mexico; Provide 24-hour live support to airlines for issues with eTA; Further investments in processing and VACs, particularly in key markets like China; Mobile biometric clinics; Premium business services for visas; Create a common travel area for North America; Visa extensions on to new passport.
Travel and tourism generate more than $90 billion a year in economic activity in Canada. With 17 million international visitors every year this sector is the country’s largest service export – worth $17.2 billion annually.
To view the full report, visit http://bit.ly/1NRWhkz.