Washington: The US Travel Association has proposed a reform of US visa policies to make America more open and welcoming to visitors, particularly from emerging economies like India, China and Brazil.
A report released by the organisation suggests that the “antiquated” US visa process often drives international travellers to other countries.
Figures released by USTA show that while travel is the largest US industry export sector, the United States has failed to keep pace with other parts of the world — such as Western Europe — as a travel destination in the past decade.
Looking specifically at growing economies like China, India and Brazil, global long-haul travel grew 140 percent from 2000 to 2010 and is projected to double again over the next decade.
But only a fraction of that travel, and the billions of dollars in revenue it creates, went to the United States, it said.
If the system is updated, it could create 1.3 million new jobs across America and add $859 billion to the economy by 2020, according to the USTA research.
The main proposals in the USTA plan are to increase staffing, reduce wait times for visa interviews and expand the Visa Waiver Programme.
Roger Dow, the association’s president and chief executive, said: “As a nation, we’re putting up a ‘keep out’ sign.”
“The United States imposes unnecessary barriers on international visitors, and that inhibits our economic growth.” (IANS)