Push for seamless cross-border travel

May 17, 2024 6:36 am

Outgoing Secretary General for the Pacific Islands Forum Henry Puna

Pacific leaders are intensifying efforts to streamline business travel within the region particularly into Australia and New Zealand.

At the forefront of this initiative is Outgoing Secretary General for the Pacific Islands Forum Henry Puna who asserts that addressing travel barriers requires political will and collective action.

Drawing parallels with Europe and Asia, where seamless cross-border travel is commonplace, Pacific leaders are increasingly recognizing the need for similar facilitation mechanisms in their region.

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In light of these discussions, Puna says the concept of a Pacific Business Travel Card has emerged as a potential solution.

“What’s happening in Europe and Asia is fantastic because you can fly across borders you know without going through the red tape or applying for Visa’s for clearance.”

Similar to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card which allows cardholders to travel more easily between participating APEC economies for short-term business purposes, the Pacific Business Travel Card would aim to simplify visa processes and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles for business travelers within the Pacific region.

Regional leaders have been arguing that such a card would not only facilitate smoother business transactions but also promote greater collaboration and investment opportunities among Pacific nations.

Pacific Islands Forum Chair Mark Brown also emphasized the importance of unrestricted access to key markets like New Zealand and Australia for the economic prosperity of Pacific Island countries.

“It’s seriously necessary if we are serious about Pacific Island countries economic growth, free access within our region is going to be essential.”

The proposal is expected to be a focal point of discussion at the upcoming leaders’ meeting, where concrete steps towards easing travel restrictions and fostering greater connectivity are anticipated.

With the potential to emulate the success of the APEC Business Travel Card in promoting trade and cooperation across borders, the Pacific Business Travel Card holds promise as a vital tool for advancing the economic interests of Pacific Island countries.