UN Tourism has been monitoring the evolution of visa policies since 1963. Since 2008, data has been collected on a regular basis and consequently validated through surveys and communication with Member States. Regular reports have been published since 2012.
Visa policies are among the most important government formalities affecting international tourism. Only half a century ago, travel was heavily influenced by customs regulations, currency exchange limitations and visa formalities. The development of policies and procedures for visas, as well as for other key travel documents such as passports, is closely linked to the development of tourism. With the rapid growth of international tourism in recent decades, the quality, reliability and functionality of visas and other travel documents have evolved.
Much progress has been made in travel facilitation, which has contributed to the growth of the tourism sector. However, despite the progress made, visa policies are still often inadequate, inefficient and often an unnecessary burden for international travellers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic UN Tourism supported the sector by monitoring and reporting on COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Over the course of this unprecedented period for tourism, the Secretariat published a total of twelve global reports, including analysis of the complex interplay of sustainability, health and tourism-related factors that influenced the adoption of the various travel restriction measures. These reports serve as a good resource for further analysis of the travel restrictions implemented during this unprecedented crisis.