President Obama takes actions to boost travel and tourism in the U.S.
During a trip to Disneyland last week and as part of his ‘We Can’t Wait’ jobs initiative, President Obama announced new initiatives targeted at boosting travel and tourism in the U.S. and making the U.S. “the world’s top travel and tourism destination,” according to a White House press statement.
Obama recently signed an Executive Order tasking the Departments of State and Homeland Security with:
- “Increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 per cent in 2012”;
- “Ensuring that 80 per cent of non-immigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application”; and
- “Increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver program and travel by nationals eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program and expanding reciprocal trusted travel programs for expedited travel (such as the Global Entry program).”
President Obama said:
“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win.”
According to U.S. Department of Commerce data and the White House statement, “international travel resulted in $134 billion in U.S. exports in 2010 and is the nation’s largest service export industry”, and “the travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increased its share of the international travel market.”
According to a recent article in The Hill, “the average tourist traveling to the United States [spends] $4,000 while a tourist from China spends $6,200, one from Brazil $5,000 and a visitor from India spends $6,100.”
Increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil
In line with President Obama’s efforts to increase travel and tourism to the U.S., the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced last week a new pilot program for visa processing in China and Brazil. The pilot program is designed to simplify and accelerate the non-immigrant visa process for certain applicants, the White House statement reports, noting that “the Department of State has [already] made tremendous progress in processing non-immigrant visas from these key markets, along them to issue more than 7.5 million visas in the last fiscal year, a 17 per cent increase from the previous fiscal year.” Efforts to shorten visa wait times “could mean 1.3 million jobs and $859 billion in additional economic activity by 2020 with virtually no cost to taxpayers,” The Hill added.