Tourist visas conditionally allow visitors to enter and leave a country for a set period of time. Restrictions on foreign nationals are to curb illegal immigration, mitigate security concerns, and invoke reciprocity for visa restrictions imposed on their own nationals.
What’s Happening Today with Tourist Visas
Over the years both short-stay/visitor and long-stay visas have become more difficult and expensive to obtain throughout the world. To reduce the amount of immigrants and threats to security, visa applications have become quite cumbersome and expensive for the applicant. These high barriers for entry have deterred tourist and business travelers. Often times this can have a significant negative impact on the local economy. Researchers at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, reckon that eliminating all travel visas to the United States would add between $90 billion and $123 billion in annual tourist spending. By one estimate, introducing visa restrictions can lower trade and foreign direct investment between a pair of countries by as much as 25%.
In an effort to ease the standard of keeping the process lengthy and price expensive it makes sense for countries to adopt the policies of the Schengen area immigration rules. Generally speaking, the application has been reduced to 2 pages and costs between €60-€90 which allows for more legitimate tourists and business travelers to engage in the process. Once an individual’s Schengen-area visa has been accepted it allows them free travel within the zone. This might alarm naysayers who claim the security risk far outweighs the rewards of having a tourism influx. Strict visa conditions have not always kept out illegal immigrants and security risks, but more lax conditions in the Schengen area have greatly reduced the costs of border patrol while increasing the speed at which goods and services can travel across borders. These benefits have positively affected the businesses and economies of the regions.
While visas are a necessary evil; its time to take a look at the processes and costs. Let’s allow those that are not a security or financial risk to engage tourism and businesses in the countries they choose.
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