The cross-border mobility of people, goods and services, and capital has expanded enormously both in intensity and diversity over recent decades. States have a general interest in facilitating these flows in order to benefit from economic globalisation. Yet, mainly due to security concerns, most governments grant visa-free mobility only very selectively. Drawing on a new bilateral visa policy database covering up to 194 destination and 214 origin countries over the 1995 to 2013 period, our analysis finds that the introduction of a visa restriction by a destination country for citizens from a particular origin country deters tourism inflows by about 20 per cent. Visa restrictions also reduce bilateral trade and foreign investment, but to a smaller extent than previous studies have suggested. We further find that some of the deterred flows in tourists and goods and services are redirected to other (visa-free) destinations. This deterrence-cum-deflection effect of restrictive visa policies implies significant economic costs for both visa-issuing and visa-targeted countries, but it creates some positive externalities for countries with a more liberal visa policy. Liberalised visa policies would in particular help poorer countries to partake more in the benefits of economic globalisation.
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Visa restrictions; Globalisation; Spatial deflection; Tourism; Visitors; Trade; Foreign direct investment