Recently the Obama administration released a travel and tourism policy and a position paper that went a long way towards satisfying a lot of the issues that have been facing the industry. Peter sat down with Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, to check up on the progress that has been made, as well as a few industry surprises.
Peter Greenberg: Two interesting thing happened this year. First, the Obama administration announced the relaxation of the Bieser restrictions in China, Brazil, India and several other countries. The visa wait times are now being really reduced. Has it made a difference?
Rodger Dow: Sure did. It made a huge difference. On average, visitors from China, Brazil and Italy spend about $5,000 each, and go home and spread the good word about America. It’s a huge gain.
Billions and billions of dollars and untold goodwill for America.
PG: It’s not just leisure travelers. There were business travelers who just gave up on America, because they just couldn’t wait for a visa. Right?
RD: If you have to wait 3 months or 4 months to get your visa interview, you’re going to go somewhere else, so we lost hundreds of thousands of travelers that should have been coming to the United States and spending their money.
PG: But then came something that, I think, was really a welcome piece of news for you, and that was very recently the Obama administration, the secretary of commerce, secretary of the interior, had a little press conference. You were there.
PG: Tell me about the president’s new policy
RD: The new policy is number one to create visas anywhere around the world in under 3 weeks from when a person requests their visa.