U.S. trade group offers plan to host more foreign visitors


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Between 2000 and 2010, the number of people traveling abroad worldwide increased by about 60 million. But the number of foreign travelers to the U.S. remained the same over that period.

The U.S. Travel Assn., the trade group for the country’s travel industry, unveiled a plan Thursday to help get more of those international travelers to visit the U.S.


The association’s plan calls on the federal government to overhaul the process to approve visas for foreign visitors, which can now take up to 145 days.

‘The United States imposes unnecessary barriers on international visitors, and that inhibits our economic growth,’ said Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Assn.

The trade group said the U.S. can create up to 1.3 million new jobs and spur $859 billion in economic growth by capturing the country’s traditional share of the global travel market.

The group suggests the federal government hire hundreds of workers and use high-tech advances, such as telecommunications, to speed up the process of approving visas. The association would like to focus the efforts on countries such as Brazil, India and China, where foreign travel is on the rise.

Other proposals include extending consular office hours to Saturdays and adding double shifts to process visa applications faster. The association also suggests the U.S. allow existing visa holders, including business travelers and students, to renew visas in the United States instead of returning to their home countries.

-- Hugo Martin