The U.S. Travel Association commended the Department of Homeland Security for announcing a statement of intent to establish a visa waiver program (VWP) working group with Brazil. The agreement was signed by Secretary Janet Napolitano and Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.
“This is a significant step in laying out the necessary work stream to advance Brazil’s inclusion as a Visa Waiver Program country,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The travel industry appreciates Secretary Napolitano’s attention to this matter, and we urge Congress to commit itself to passing the JOLT Act, which will lead to expansion of the VWP program and ensure additional economic growth.”
Last year, U.S. Travel was the first group to call on the Administration to create a formal bilateral working group with Brazil. U.S. Travel also engaged others, including 104 CEOs and the Discover America Partnership, to work vigorously for a Brazil roadmap to VWP inclusion.
Foreign visitors to the U.S. spent more than $150 billion in 2011 on travel and tourism-related goods and services. VWP facilitates this trade and travel, currently enabling nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the U.S. for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. On average, Brazilians traveling to the United States spent upwards of $5,000 per visit in 2011; nearly twice as much as a visitor from the United Kingdom or France.
Processing of Brazilian visas to the U.S. is up 58 percent over last year. The positive economic impact of adding Brazil to the VWP would be welcomed across the country – particularly in travel-heavy states like Florida, North Carolina, New York, Nevada and California.