The current visa application process has resulted in dramatically declining numbers of international travel to the United States. While the process takes an average of only ten days in Great Britain and France, it takes an average of ninety days in the U.S and because of this; the U.S. has lost an entire global sector of international leisure and business travel. It is easy to forget that tourism is a top U.S. export and since 9/11, there has been a 16% decline in America’s share of international travel.
In a briefing today featuring Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), legislation was introduced (with the help of the Discover America Partnership) in an effort to create jobs and promote economic growth. The International Tourism Facilitation Act would promote the United States as a travel destination for foreigners and help solve current economic issues, as International travel supports 1.8 million jobs across all sectors of the U.S. economy. The legislation would streamline the visa application process without compromising security, and enact reporting requirements so that the Department of Commerce would report international tourism data to the State Department.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), co-chair of the Senate Tourism Caucus, believes foreign visitors stay longer and spend more money, and “like us more when they leave than when they come.” The legislation will also positively affect foreign policy and national security. It is important to also remember, as Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) said at the briefing, “tourism is a bi-partisan issue.” The U.S. Travel Promotion Act was a step in the right direction and will be further aided and promoted with the passage of this legislation, the International Tourism Facilitation Act.
International travel does not simply consist of leisure travel but also of business travel. This bill would also increase U.S. competitiveness and creates jobs, and this is all done without compromising the United States’ national security.