Officials at the US Travel Association have outlined plans to reform “antiquated” visa application processes they blamed for driving international travellers to other countries.
It is hoped the proposals will create 1.3 million jobs in the United States and add $859 billion to the US economy by 2020.
At the heart of the plans are proposals to increase staffing, reduce visa interview wait times and expand the Visa Waiver Program.
“As a nation, we are putting up a ‘keep out’ sign,” said Roger Dow, president of the US Travel Association.
“The United States imposes unnecessary barriers on international visitors, and that inhibits our economic growth.
By failing to keep pace with the growth in global long-haul international travel between 2000 and 2010, the United States lost the opportunity to welcome 78 million more visitors and generate $606 billion in direct and downstream spending – enough to support more than 467,000 additional US jobs annually over these years.
US Travel’s report - Ready for Takeoff: A Plan to Create 1.3 Million US Jobs by Welcoming Millions of International Travelers - is the first comprehensive review of the negative impact that inefficient and unpredictable US visitor visa and entry processes have on US jobs, economic growth and exports.
The report documents that travel is America’s largest industry export sector, and the easiest export sector to expand, since the barriers to increased international visitation to the United States are largely self-imposed.
The report’s comprehensive, four-step plan will help the United States achieve its goal of becoming more competitive in the global travel market, which in turn will expand US exports, create new jobs and drive economic growth.
The report recommends:
America align US State Department resources with market demands.
America reduce visa interview wait times to ten days or fewer.
The state department improve planning, measurement and transparency.
America expand the Visa Waiver Program.
“Increasing travel to the United States is the most effective form of economic stimulus,” said Dow.
“Travel supports communities, injecting billions into the U.S. economy and creating millions of new jobs.”