20 years ago, visa-free access only had one meaning: you hop on a plane, reach your destination and then proceed to the immigration counter. That's how it worked for EU citizens visiting the US, Japanese citizens visiting the EU, Australian citizens visiting Egypt, etc. But ever since the US introduced the ESTA program in 2007, things have generally moved towards restrictions on truly visa-free travel:
- Australia has the Evisitor program
- Canada introduced the ETA for air travel
- The EU will soon introduce the ETIAS for all visa-free travelers
- When liberalizing the visa regime, Iran chose to introduce e-visas rather than true visa-free access
- India likewise scrapped their visa free program in favor of e-visas
If the trends continue, it will no longer be possible for citizens of any country to just hop on a plane and go abroad without prior authorization. What are the political reasons behind this shift in policy? Is it fear of terrorism, negative attitudes towards tourists, bureaucrats trying to invent extra work for themselves, etc?