WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Travel Association unveiled a plan to create 1.3 million U.S. jobs and add $859 billion to the U.S. economy by 2020 by reforming an antiquated visa process that often drives international travelers to other countries. The heart of U.S. Travel’s plan is to increase staffing, reduce visa interview wait times and expand the Visa Waiver Program.
“As a nation, we’re putting up a ‘keep out’ sign,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The United States imposes unnecessary barriers on international visitors, and that inhibits our economic growth. If we institute a smarter visa policy, we can create 1.3 million U.S. jobs.”
By failing to keep pace with the growth in global long-haul international travel between 2000 and 2010, the United States lost the opportunity to welcome 78 million more visitors and generate $606 billion in direct and downstream spending – enough to support more than 467,000 additional U.S. jobs annually over these years.
U.S. Travel’s report, “Ready for Takeoff: A Plan to Create 1.3 Million U.S. Jobs by Welcoming Millions of International Travelers,” is the first comprehensive review of the negative impact that inefficient and unpredictable U.S. visitor visa and entry processes have on U.S. jobs, economic growth and exports. The report documents that travel is America’s largest industry export sector, and the easiest export sector to expand, since the barriers to increased international visitation to the United States are largely self-imposed. Additionally, the report shows how common-sense reforms that are relatively easy to implement could create 1.3 million more U.S. jobs and add $859 billion to the U.S. economy by 2020 – all with little or no cost to taxpayers.
The report’s comprehensive, four-step plan will help the United States achieve its goal of becoming more competitive in the global travel market, which in turn will expand U.S. exports, create new jobs and drive economic growth. The report recommends:
America must align U.S. State Department resources with market demands;
America must reduce visa interview wait times to 10 days or fewer;
The U.S. State Department must improve planning, measurement and transparency;
America must expand the Visa Waiver Program.
“Increasing travel to the United States is the most effective form of economic stimulus,” said Dow. “Travel supports communities, injecting billions into the U.S. economy and creating millions of new jobs.”
Coinciding with the release of the report, U.S. Travel will reactivate the Discover America Partnership to unite a diverse group of stakeholders behind a focused and intensive campaign to advance the report’s recommendations. Joining the new Partnership at the leadership level are the American Hotel and Lodging Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with U.S. Travel serving as chair.