President Obama’s recent executive order to increase tourism to the U.S. by expediting and simplifying the tourist visa application process is a step in the right direction. The goal is to fuel the economy and create jobs. “The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work,” says Mr Obama. International travel accounted for $134 billion in U.S. exports in 2010. Ten years ago, the United States welcomed a record 7.5 million travelers with visas. According to the U.S. Travel Association, regaining our pre-9/11 share of global overseas travel would pump an additional $39 billion per year into the U.S. economy, and that’s not even counting the multiplier effect of more domestic jobs.
The key to Mr Obama’s executive order is improved visa processing in China and Brazil, whose visitor numbers to the United States are expected to grow by 135 per cent and 274 per cent respectively by 2016 (compared to 2010). Amongst the strategy’s other initiatives is the rule to expand on and make permanent the Global Entry program (for low risk travelers to the U.S.), and the nomination of Taiwan to the Visa Waiver Program.