Foreign Press Bashes U.S. Travel Experience

The Travel Industry Association (TIA) believes that the U.S. government's failure to properly promote United States tourism is allowing for negative perceptions to fester and grow. The TIA says the Travel Promotion Act-supported by the TIA-would create a needed public-private partnership to attract overseas visitors.

The TIA also notes that a January 20 article in The Sunday Times of London, includes the admonition: "Don't go to the USA." It remarks: "Traveling to the U.S. offers experiences like nowhere else on earth...Nowhere else can a visitor expect such a spirit-crushingly frosty reception. A preflight e-interrogation, epic queues at immigration, thin-lipped questioning from aggressive border guards, and an outside chance of a rubber-gloved rectal rummage are all part of the fun. So, if Chertoff & Co. want to tighten Fortress America further, it's time we considered other more welcoming holiday options, such as Iran or North Korea."

The TIA responded saying, "As this and many other foreign press articles demonstrate, negative perceptions of the U.S. entry experience are out of proportion to what travelers actually encounter. But who is telling America's side of the story? Our government is silent. The private sector, on its own, is not equipped to better communicate the latest security policies. Because the United States has no effective communications strategy, necessary security improvements have helped create the unwarranted impression that America is no longer a welcoming nation. The result is a17-percent decline in overseas travel to the United States since 9/11, costing America nearly $100 billion in lost visitor spending and nearly 200,000 jobs."

The solution says the TIA, is The Travel Promotion Act of 2007 (S.1661 / H.R.3232), which would establish a nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign jointly managed by government and the private sector to better communicate America's travel policies and welcome foreign visitors. The legislation has the support of more than 150 members of the House of Representatives and 40 senators. (GD)