The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) held in Bali October 1-8, 2013 sought to enhance the welfare of member nations through trade and investment.
One of the areas of economic cooperation identified by the Conference delegates was the removal of travel restrictions between member nationals to facilitate business and tourism travel. During the APEC Conference a seminar entitled “Connectivity and Inclusive Growth in the Asia-Pacific” held at the Grand Nikko Hotel examined the problems posed by restrictive immigration policies in efforts to grow national economies.
The Indonesian Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, spoke at the seminar and said, “Through facilitating non-business visas, a total of 1.8-2.6 million jobs will be created in the APEC region.”
The goal agreed at APEC is to facilitate the flow of tourists between borders as a means of increasing investment and integrating the economies of the Asia Pacific.
Tourist travel between APEC Countries is predicted to grow by 38 to 57 million people over the coming two years. This growth is extrapolated to create additional income of between US$62 billion and US$89 billion, creating millions of new jobs along the way.
A number of steps have been identified to ease travel between APEC nations, including simplifying the visa application process and providing for on-line visa processing. The most effective means to increase visitor flows, however, is to increase the number of countries extending “visa-free” facilities and issuing multiple visit visas.
Also discussed as a means of supporting tourist travel is improving service by immigration officials at APEC member airports and seaports.
Apparently, not discussed specifically are the complicated, expensive and time-consuming procedures in place in Bali demanded of tourists trying to extend a 30-day visa-on-arrival for an additional 30 days.
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