The Obama Administration today issued a comprehensive travel and tourism progress report on the goals set forth in the President’s Executive Order announced earlier this year. In a statement released with the report, the President reaffirmed his commitment to the travel industry as a means of helping the American economy create jobs.
“Every year, tens of millions of tourists come from all over the world to visit America. That’s good for business, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for our country. That’s why, back in January, I announced new initiatives to bolster tourism and promote everything America has to offer and make it even easier for tourists to come and visit, without sacrificing our nation’s security. I’m glad we’re making progress, and I’ll continue to do whatever I can to strengthen the travel and tourism industry and create an economy that’s built to last,” President Obama stated.
The report addresses a number of activities underway by the Departments of State and Homeland Security to achieve goals put forth in the President’s order. Continued progress and improvement on visa and overseas traveler processing has helped boost international travel to the United States, thereby increasing traveler spending and supporting continued job growth.
Achievements listed in the report include:
– Exceeding the President’s visa interview wait time goal – 88 percent of applicants worldwide are interviewed within three weeks of submitting applications;
– Increasing visa processing capacity by 40 percent has been achieved in Brazil and will be met in China by December;
– Establishing a pilot program to waive visa interviews and increase efficiency launched in 28 countries;
– Moving into final stages of Visa Waiver Program nomination process for Taiwan; and
– Expanding Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry Program to nationals from South Korea, Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, and through a limited pilot to citizens of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Qatar.
Additionally, US Travel board member organizations have been assisting the Administration in attracting more visitors to the US. Industrial engineers from Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. are donating their time and expertise to evaluate consular sections in Brazil and China, where they will suggest improvements for queue management and other ways to improve the applicant experience. And American Express now reimburses top-tier customers for the Global Entry application fee.
The White House has announced a travel and tourism “Listening Tour” that will include Administration and Cabinet officials visiting cities across the country to hear about the importance of increasing travel and tourism with state and local officials, small business owners, and other key stakeholder travel organizations.