Governments are deterring business travellers and tourists with cumbersome visa requirements that do little to make their countries more secure.
THE rise of big emerging economies like China and India, and the steady march of globalisation, have led to a surge in the numbers of people wanting to travel abroad for business or tourism. As a result, demand for visas is at unprecedented levels. In the fiscal year to the end of September 2014 the United States granted just under 10m visas—up from around 6m in 1997, despite blips in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 and the global financial crisis of 2007-08 (see chart 1).
Citizens of America, Britain and some other rich countries can travel to most places without a visa. Chinese and Indian travellers are far more likely to have to apply for them. And citizens of a few benighted places, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, have to submit to the cost and bureaucracy—and often the humiliation—of the visa-application process to get to most places (see chart 2).
The most sensible response to this surge in demand for short-term visas would be for governments to streamline the application process and scrap the most onerous requirements. But governments are often not sensible about such things. The 26 European countries with a common visa policy—the “Schengen group”—require tourists from India and other developing countries to provide several months’ worth of bank statements and pay slips. Visitors to Britain often have to fill in a ten-page application form, including details of every trip abroad for the past ten years. Business travellers to India must provide two references. Mexico has scrapped a rule requiring visa applicants (including women) to submit a description of their moustaches. But in 2016 America will start requiring visas for some travellers who currently do not need them—if, for example, they have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan in the previous five years.
Pour lire l'article en entier et avoir accès aux graphiques : http://www.economist.com/news/business/21684791-governments-are-deterring-business-travellers-and-tourists-cumbersome-visa-requirements