The World Travel & Tourism Council has offered is ringing support to proposals laid out by American president Barack Obama, branding the move “a major step forward”.
President Obama visited Disney Land, Florida, earlier to make the announcement.
“President Obama should be congratulated for signing the executive order and announcing a suite of initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States.
“It is a major step forward for the world’s biggest tourism economy,” said WTTC president David Scowsill.
In total, the industry contributes $1.3 trillion to the GDP of the United States and is responsible for sustaining jobs for almost 15 million people.
This totals around nine per cent of the US economy.
Today’s announcement should play a major part in driving growth of the US economy at a critical time.
Figures from the travel industry and Bureau of Economic Analysis show that ‘long-haul’ travellers spend on average $4,000 on each visit.
It is no surprise the US Administration is taking much-needed steps to expand the visa waiver programme; reduce the time taken to wait for an interview and increase the capacity to process visas in China and Brazil in 40 per cent during this year.
Scowsill continued: “The announcement is the result of a long dialogue between the industry and the administration, which included the participation of secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Las Vegas in 2011.
“It shows that president Obama really gets it; he understands the economic and social value of tourism.
“The president should be congratulated for taking a bold and important step.
“I would urge other countries to look at the steps they can take to expand their own tourism industries.
“Access to countries remains probably the biggest single challenge affecting the industry.”