Travel leaders have begun the WTTC 11th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Las Vegas by calling upon US policy-makers to undertake a review visa regulations in a bid to boost tourism.
Following a new report titled “Ready for Takeoff”, the US Travel Association, argues that strict visa policies implemented after 9/11 have resulted in a ‘lost decade’ of tourism to the U.S., as the country’s market share of long-haul travel has fallen from 18 percent in 1999 to 12 percent to 2009.
This opening session at the Summit took an in-depth look at the USA and how new approaches to tourism development and marketing are challenging existing visa, security and taxation policies so that Travel & Tourism can stimulate the jobs and exports so important for the country’s economic wellbeing.
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker, with panellists including Roger Dow, President and CEO, US Travel Association; Hubert Joly, President, CEO & Director, Carlson; Frits van Paasschen, President & CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts; Arne Sorensen, President & COO, Marriott International; and Stephen P Holmes, Chairman & CEO, Wyndham Worldwide, Vice Chairman, WTTC.
One of the burning issues is how the stringent US visa policies was harming inbound tourism from the BRIC economies.
China, India and Brazil are fuelling an explosion in international tourism, delivering money and jobs on countries ready for it, but trouble for those that aren’t.
(Roger Dow, President & CEO, US Travel Association, keynote speaker at the WTTC Summit)
Roger Dow, President & CEO, US Travel Association, pinpointed infrastructure to keep up with demand, as well as a reform of the visa system.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States instituted requirements that every visa applicant be interviewed in person by a consular level officer.
“The end result is we have seen visa wait times for interviews go up to 100, 120 days in Brazil and China,” he said.
“In Brazil, there are only four places you can go for a visa interview. In China there are five. So the combination of the huge population, the huge demand, and the need for face-to-face interviews in very few places is what has created the problem,” he said.
“The Brazilian economy is soaring and people want to spend money, they want to travel. And the two highest groups that spend money are the Chinese and the Brazilian travellers. They outpace other travellers in the world by 25 to 50 percent per person,” Dow added.
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The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit is taking place at the Aria Resort & Convention Centre, Las Vegas, 17-19 May 2011. To find out more visit www.globaltraveltourism.com