In 2000, the top tourist destination in the world was Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios, just to name a few attractions. But by 2010, Orlando was no longer number one, or even number five, or ten. Though it is still is one of the top destinations for Americans to visit, the number of foreign visitors has dropped significantly.
Orlando isn’t the only city to have seen such a decline. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and San Francisco have all seen their inbound tourism drop off. But why? Well, part of the reason is because following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the USA made the process of getting a tourist visa much more difficult if the traveler wasn’t from one of the countries involved in the Visa Waiver program.
However, US President Barack Obama recently announced that he has ordered this process to be streamlined in an effort to make it less cumbersome, and therefore more appealing, for foreign tourists to visit the United States. It is estimated that by speeding up the process in countries like Brazil and China, inbound tourism will create up to one million new jobs over the next decade. Additionally it will increase tax revenues at all levels of government since inbound tourism generates more than $134 billion in revenue each year.
How will this happen? The first steps will include increasing the ability of embassies to process more applications in a shorter time frame. This will require additional investments in infrastructure as well as hiring more staff. Also Taiwan will be added to the list of countries in the Visa Waiver Program. Additional steps will also then be taken to make it less burdensome for applicants by eliminating many of the bureaucratic hurdles that currently slow the process down.
There are several additional articles that discuss this action and the impact it will have on both the travel industry and the US economy, but here are two I found informative via Airwise.com and DailyBreeze.com.