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                          經濟學人:旅行簽證 一種奇怪的歡迎方式

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                          Business: Travel visas A strange sort of welcome

                          商業:旅行簽證,奇怪的歡迎方式
                          Governments are deterring business travellers and tourists with cumbersome visa requirements that do little to make their countries more secure.
                          多國政府正以繁瑣的簽證要求阻擋商務旅行者和觀光客,而這對維護國家安全作用甚微。
                          THE rise of big emerging economies like China and India, and the steady march of globalisation, have led to a surge in the numbers of people wanting to travel abroad for business or tourism.
                          中國和印度等大型新興經濟體的崛起,加上全球化的穩步邁進,使得想出國商務旅行或觀光旅游的人數激增。
                          As a result, demand for visas is at unprecedented levels.
                          因此,對簽證的需求達到了前所未有的水平。

                          旅行簽證奇怪的歡迎方式.jpg

                          In the fiscal year to the end of September 2014 the United States granted just under 10m visas—up from around 6m in 1997, despite blips in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 and the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

                          截至2014年9月底的財政年度里,美國頒發了接近1000萬份簽證。簽證數量從1997年的約600萬份起逐漸增加,僅在2001年911恐怖襲擊和2007至2008年全球金融危機之后有所波動。
                          Citizens of America, Britain and some other rich countries can travel to most places without a visa.
                          美國、英國和其他一些富裕國家的公民無需簽證即可到世界上大部分地區旅行。
                          Chinese and Indian travellers are far more likely to have to apply for them.
                          中國和印度的旅行者需要申請簽證的幾率要大得多。
                          And citizens of a few benighted places, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, have to submit to the cost and bureaucracy—and often the humiliation—of the visa-application process to get to most places.
                          而少數幾個落后國家如伊拉克和阿富汗等國的公民想去大部分地方都不得不忍受簽證申請的高成本和繁縟流程,還時常被羞辱。
                          The most sensible response to this surge in demand for short-term visas would be for governments to streamline the application process and scrap the most onerous requirements.
                          短期簽證的需求激增,最明智的應對應當是政府簡化申請程序,廢除最繁重的要求。
                          But governments are often not sensible about such things.
                          但是各國政府在這方面往往不那么明智。
                          The 26 European countries with a common visa policy—the “Schengen group” —require tourists from India and other developing countries to provide several months' worth of bank statements and pay slips.
                          擁有統一簽證政策的26個歐洲國家,即“申根國”,要求來自印度和其他發展中國家的旅行者提供數月的銀行對賬單和工資單。
                          Visitors to Britain often have to fill in a ten-page application form, including details of every trip abroad for the past ten years.
                          去英國旅行的人通常得填寫十頁的申請表,包括過去十年每次出國旅行的詳細情況。
                          Business travellers to India must provide two references.
                          去印度的商務旅行者必須提供兩份推薦信。
                          Mexico has scrapped a rule requiring visa applicants (including women) to submit a description of their mustaches.
                          墨西哥已經廢除了一條規定,要求簽證申請人(包括女性)提交關于其胡須的描述。
                          But in 2016 America will start requiring visas for some travellers who currently do not need them—if, for example, they have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan in the previous five years.
                          但2016年美國將開始要求一些目前無需簽證的旅行者申請簽證,例如,那些在過去五年內到訪過伊朗、伊拉克、敘利亞或蘇丹的人。
                          In many cases, instead of simplifying the visa process, governments have offloaded it to private contractors.
                          很多時候,政府并未簡化簽證流程,而是把它轉交給私營承包機構。
                          Travellers may now have to pay a service fee to the company handling their application on top of the standard visa fee.
                          現在,除了標準的簽證費,旅行者可能還需要向處理申請的公司支付一筆服務費。
                          The biggest firm in this growing business is VFS Global, which is part of Kuoni, a Swiss tourism company.
                          在這個不斷增長的行業中,最大的公司是VFS Global,它是瑞士旅游公司瑞士旅業集團的子公司。
                          Starting from a single premises in Mumbai in 2001, handling applications for American visas, VFS now has more than 1,900 visa centres in 124 countries, processing paperwork for 48 governments.
                          2001年VFS從位于孟買的一個單一辦理機構起家,處理美國簽證申請,現在它在124個國家設有1900多個簽證中心,為48個政府處理簽證材料。
                          Of the 113m visa applications made worldwide in 2013, one in three went through a contractor, reckons VFS, which has about half the market.
                          據VFS估算,2013年全球1.13億份簽證申請中,有三分之一通過承包商處理,其中VFS占有一半市場。
                          Its main rivals are CSC, with around 10% of the market, and TLScontact, with around 7%.
                          它主要的對手是約占10%市場份額的CSC和約占7%市場的TLScontact。
                          Dozens of smaller firms make up the remainder of the market.
                          幾十家較小的公司瓜分了剩下的市場。
                          The private contractors collect and verify the applicant's paperwork, ensure that forms are filled in properly, take fingerprints and other biometric information and collect the fees.
                          私營承包機構收集并驗證申請者的文件,確保表格正確填寫,采集指紋和其他生物識別信息,并且收取費用。
                          The consular staff of the destination country simply decide whether to grant the visa, and slap a sticker in the passport of successful applicants.
                          目的地國領事館的工作人員只決定是否頒發簽證,并在申請成功者的護照上貼上貼紙。
                          For the contractors, it is a nice little earner.
                          對于承包機構來說,這門生意很好賺。
                          VFS probably enjoys operating margins of 20%, reckons Kathleen Gailliot, an analyst at Natixis, a French bank.
                          法國外貿銀行的分析師凱特琳·加耶里奧估算,VFS很可能享有20%的毛利率。
                          The companies are given a free hand to pad their earnings with pricey “premium” services.
                          這些公司已被賦予自主權,通過昂貴的“高級”服務來增加收入。
                          In Mumbai, for example, VFS offers Indians applying for British visas a text on their mobile phones to notify them that their passports are ready for collection, at 128 rupees ($2) a shot.
                          例如在孟買,VFS向申請英國簽證的印度人提供發送短信到手機的服務,通知他們護照已經可取,收費為128盧比(2美元)一單。
                          For an extra 2,548 rupees, applicants can use a special “lounge” area while submitting their documents, and have their passports posted back to them.
                          另加2548盧比,申請人在提交文件時可以使用特別的“休息區”,辦好的護照也可以寄回給他們。
                          VFS accounts for just 5% of Kuoni's revenues but more than 60% of its operating profits.
                          VFS僅占瑞士旅業集團收入的5%,但占其營業利潤的60%還多。
                          So bright are the division's prospects that its parent company is getting out of the tour-operator business, which it has been in since 1906, to concentrate on visa-processing and a few other specialist travel services.
                          這一部門的前景非常光明,因此母公司正逐步脫離自1906年起就開始運營的旅行社業務,專注于簽證辦理和其他幾項專業旅行服務。
                          Until VFS opened its Mumbai office, applicants had to queue for an average of five hours in the sweltering heat outside the American consulate.
                          VFS在孟買開設分公司之前,申請人要頂著酷暑在美國領事館外排平均五個小時的隊。
                          After the job was handed to the contractor, the typical waiting time fell to one hour.
                          這項工作轉交承包機構之后,一般的等候時間減至一小時。
                          However, applicants still have no choice but to submit to whatever petty demands contractors make—such as, say, banning them from using mobile phones while they sit waiting for their appointments.
                          但是申請人除了接受承包機構的各項要求之外仍然別無選擇,無論這些要求多麼瑣碎,例如,不準在等待面談時使用手機。
                          If the staff are rude, the queues are badly managed or the “extras” extravagantly priced, travellers can hardly take their business elsewhere.
                          即便工作人員粗魯無禮,隊伍排得亂七八糟,或者“額外費用”高昂,旅行者也難有其他選擇。
                          The application-processing firms are profiting both from travellers' lack of choice and from governments' failure to consider the economic damage caused by their visa requirements.
                          簽證申請處理公司從兩個方面獲利:一是旅行者缺乏選擇,二是政府沒能考慮到簽證要求造成的經濟損失。
                          There is scant evidence that making all travellers submit the same documents every time they want to travel, or provide extensive financial details, protects countries from terrorists or illegal immigrants.
                          鮮有證據能證明,讓所有旅行者每次想旅行時都提交同樣的文件,或是提供大量的財務信息,就能保護國家免受恐怖分子或非法移民的侵害。
                          In contrast, there is evidence of how liberal visa regimes bring in the bucks.
                          相反,倒是有證據顯示自由的簽證制度能帶來何等利益。
                          A report in 2014 from the European Parliament, “A Smarter Visa Policy for Economic Growth”, estimated that over-strict visa rules probably cost the EU economy 250,000 jobs and 12.6 billion euro ($13.8 billion) a year in lost output.
                          2014年歐洲議會一份名為“促進經濟增長的更明智簽證政策”的報告估算,過于嚴格的簽證規定可能讓歐盟經濟每年損失25萬個工作崗位,產出損失達126億歐元(138億美元)。
                          It recommended requiring fewer documents from applicants, handing out longer visas and simplifying the whole process.
                          報告建議減少要求申請者提交的文件,頒發更長期的簽證,并且簡化整個流程。
                          Since Britain is not part of the Schengen group, Chinese people taking a tour of Europe have to apply for a second visa to cross the Channel.
                          因為英國并不是申根國,去歐洲旅游的中國人要穿越英吉利海峽就不得不再申請一個簽證。
                          Only 6% of them do so, says Euromonitor, a research firm.
                          研究公司歐睿稱僅有6%的人這么做。
                          The British Tourist Authority has complained that the country's visa policies cost it £2.8 billion ($4.1 billion) a year in lost revenue.
                          英國旅游局曾經抱怨英國的簽證政策讓該國每年損失28億英鎊(41億美元)的收入。
                          However, amid worries about the wave of asylum-seekers from Syria and elsewhere, governments in Europe and beyond will face pressure to keep making life hard for tourists and business travellers—even as other departments of those same governments spend heavily on promoting tourism and foreign investment.
                          不過,由于擔心來自敘利亞和其他地區的難民蜂擁而至,歐洲和歐洲以外的各國政府將面臨壓力,商務旅行者和觀光客的日子仍然不會好過,盡管這些政府的其他部門在花大錢促進旅游業和外國投資。

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