U.S. tourism tries to shed negative image

U.S. tourism tries to shed  negative image

The U.S. government and private sector are launching a massive effort to reshape America's image for foreign visitors amid concerns that tightened security measures have made the country inhospitable.
The campaign comes as the number of visitors to the United States is just getting back to the levels prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, but with the U.S. share of the multi-trillion-dollar global travel market shrinking.
Government and business leaders argue that the United States needs to fix real and perceived barriers to foreign visitors or risk losing billions of dollars in tourism revenues.
The United States welcomed some 49 million international travelers in 2005, ranking third behind France and Spain, according to a report prepared for the Commerce Department. But even as global travel is increasing more people are choosing other destinations and the U.S. market share has been on the decline.
The U.S. Commerce Department's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board is seeking input for "a national strategy to compete for international visitors."
Business leaders argue the new security measures implemented since the 2001 attacks have created new bureaucratic obstacles as well as a perception that the United States is unwelcoming.
A coalition of business leaders is preparing to release a "blueprint" in the coming week to fix key problems that hamper travel to the U.S.
The proposals would focus on three areas: visa delays, the arrival process and the U.S. image abroad.
"Our visa system is broken, and people are waiting upwards of 100 days simply to get a visa," said Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership, adding that discussions were also being held on improving the experience for visitors arriving in the United States.
"People find that experience to be awful," he said. "They believe they are treated like criminals."
A report released by the group with Travel Industry Association of America found the U.S. market share of the US$6 trillion worldwide travel market fell from 7.5 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent by 2006, a 20 percent drop.
The drop in market share has meant 58 million fewer visitors, 194,000 lost jobs, US$94 billion in lost spending and US$15.6 billion in lost tax revenues compared with a steady market share for the United States.

Updated : 2021-03-02 00:24 GMT+08:00