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WTM Latin America: US visa reforms pay off

WTM Latin America: US visa reforms pay off

JacTravel, the UK-based B2B wholesaler best known for its extensive range of hotels online and inbound travel services, is reporting an exceptional period of growth in tourism from Brazil to the United States in the wake of visa reforms by the US government, in a report to be released on the first day of the inaugural World Travel Market Latin America.

In the past year JacTravel’s Brazilian bookings to the US have more than doubled, 127 per cent up by value and 112 per cent up by number of bookings, the company will tell delegates at WTM Latin America, which is taking place at the Transamerica Expocenter, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

JacTravel puts this surge in growth down to measures taken by the US government to speed up visa processing. 

Until early 2012 visas could only be issued by the four US consulates in Brazil and the waiting time was 100 days. 

However, since March 2012, in order to speed things up, the US State Department added processing staff and opened new offices. 

Results have been immediate and dramatic. 

Waiting times have virtually evaporated – down to just a week or even a couple of days in some places – and demand for US tourist visas has increased more than 60 per cent in a few months.

WTM Latin America, a Reed Travel Exhibitions event, has been launched to tap in to the growing demand of Latin Americans to visit the world and for the world’s tourists to visit Latin America.

The event will have more than one thousand exhibitors, all looking to negotiate and sign business deals with the industry’s leading buyers.

JacTravel sees participation at the new event as a key business development initiative. 

It is aggressively sourcing hotel accommodation in the USA and in Latin America to meet the demand. 

During the coming year, it will increase its ‘American product’ from 1220 to 1600 directly contracted hotels, with a focus on major US and Canadian cities, as well as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

JacTravel director of sales, Alexia Renedo, said: “In Latin America, there’s a huge appetite to travel and the measures taken by the United States are evidently intended to take advantage of that enthusiasm. 

“JacTravel is eager to participate actively in this market, which is why we are investing in growing our American inventory rapidly and are exhibiting at the inaugural WTM Latin America.

“We expect it will be an excellent place to meet new contacts and to showcase our proposition to the travel trade.”

Alexia added: “We would be delighted to see any further easing of travel restrictions because this would be good for our business.

“However, it would also be good for the economies of the USA and of Brazil.”