One topic that many of the bloggers I know who travel are bugged about is the lousy reception many foreigners get when they come to the US. Coupled with the fact that the budget has been decimated for any promotion of the US overseas, it is just plain no fun for many citizens of other countries to enter the US.
The Travel Industry of America recently had a meeting for foreign travel reporters in Anaheim, CA. They told horror stories about the protracted visa applications processes they had to endure. They also didn’t like the long airport security lines, according to the LA Times.
One reporter from Germany, Rudiger Edelmann, said he spent 95 minutes in a winding queue leading to an understaffed immigration desk in Chicago and, even with a two-hour layover, missed his flight and was separated by his luggage.
The people who run Walt Disney Parks and Resorts acknowleged the problem. “Our process is neither friendly, nor efficient, nor does it welcome foreign visitors. We are leaving an enormous vacuum around the world for other destinations to step into.”
It’s true. Before Sept 11, there were 51.2 million foreign visitors to the US. In 2006, there were just 51 million. That translates into a $94 million loss to our economy.