Speedier visa processing has been promised by President Barack Obama as he unveiled plans to stimulate overseas tourism to the US.
Obama’s strategy, outlined at Walt Disney World in Florida, aims to boost non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40% this year.
The visa waiver programme that allows travellers from countries such as the UK to travel to the US for stays of 90 days or less without a visa is to be expanded and a new group of chief executives is to be appointed to the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
A task force will also develop recommendations for a national travel and tourism strategy, including promoting national parks and other sites.
The White House says the travel and tourism industry represents 2.7% of gross domestic product and 7.5 million jobs in 2010.
But the US share of spending by international travellers fell from 17% to 11% between 2000 and 2010, due to increased competition and changes in global development, as well as security measures imposed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The US government says that more than one million jobs could be created over the next decade if it increases its share of the international travel market.
“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work,” Obama said.
“We’ve got the most entertaining destinations in the world. This is a land of extraordinary wonders, from the Rocky Mountains to the Grand Canyon to Yosemite,” he said.
“I’m here today because I want more tourists here tomorrow. I want America to be the top tourism destination in the world.”
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