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Visa requirements transforming the way we travel

As a frequent traveler, I feel like a silent revolution is underway with the global changes taking place in visa requirements. This is mostly because of the rise of the e-visa, a visa that you can apply for online that is linked electronically to your passport so it can be seen by travel-related personnel, such as border agents and airline staff. You no longer have to physically submit your passport for an entry visa to Australia or the UAE.

When I first started doing business in India, the visa process required me to take two days off of work — four hours in the morning to apply for my visa in person at the Embassy of India in Washington and four hours the next afternoon to pick it up. The majority of that time was spent idly waiting for my name to be called by the counter clerk. I would have much rather spent those hard-earned vacation days doing something fun in India. A few years ago, their process changed allowing me to send them my passport by mail and to track my visa status online.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization has found that countries in Asia, the Pacific and the Americas were the most “open” regions in terms of tourist visa requirements. Its study also showed a significant trend among countries to allow foreigners with no visa required, visa on arrival or e-visa.

The trend is being driven by increased tourism and investment resulting from fewer barriers to travel. Even hotel giants, such as Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International, are actively encouraging governments to adopt smart visa policies.

A couple of years ago, I never dreamed applying for an entry visa could be so simple. It gives me hope that airline security may one day become simpler.