Security measures established to vet foreign visitors to the United States has had a negative reaction by discouraging travel to the US at a time when foreign visitors are crucial to bolstering the US economy. Travel industry representatives assert that the government created more cumbersome entry procedures for visitors, such as protracted waits for tourist visas to enter the U.S., and a perception abroad that the country is less welcoming of foreign visitors.
Unfortunately, emerging middle classes in Brazil, China, India and other evolving economies are creating legions of new international travelers. The State Department expects to review about 800,000 visitor visa applications in Brazil during the fiscal year that ends this month, up from just 290,000 five years earlier. China's pool is set to jump to one million from 750,000 just last year.
COMMENT: It is impossible to know exactly how many travelers are avoiding the U.S. in favor of other countries. Nevertheless, it is clear that the US is becoming as slow and bureaucratic as some developing countries and that foreign travelers are going elsewhere. It is essential that the US make foreign travel to the US a public policy priority by utilizing cleared contractors who can move the bottle neck and expedite foreign-born travelers to the US.