Travel Industry Wins Praise From White House

The travel anad tourism industry won recognition from a White House blog entry posted this week praising the link between immigration reform and the benefits that America's economy and national security will realize from increased travel and tourism.

The U.S. Travel Association commended the analysis offered by National Economic Council director Gene Sperling and senior policy advisor Brandon Belford.

Entitled "The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System: Travel and Tourism," the post reads in part: "Travel and reliant on a modern immigration system that allows us to efficiently welcome legitimate international visitors to America."

"The sound argument from the White House on travel provisions associated with immigration reform is something we can all get behind," Roger Dow, President and CEO of U.S. Travel said. "Mr. Sperling and Mr. Belford shine a spotlight on the economic and security benefits that increased international travel will bring to the United States."

The executives also accurately identified the enormous untapped economic potential in key emerging international travel markets., U.S.Travel noted.

"The growing number of middle class families from China, Brazil, India, and other emerging economies who are using their new-found wealth to travel the world represent a tremendous opportunity for the United States" they write. "From those countries alone, the number of travelers to the U.S. is expected to increase by 229 percent, 66 percent, and 43 percent respectively over the next few years."

Sperling and Belford specifically name a number of policy prescriptions for boosting inbound U.S. visitors that are strongly backed by U.S. Travel, including:

Reforming the Visa Waiver Program to allow additional countries to apply for admission;

Authorizing the U.S. State Department to explore ways to expedite visa interviews;

Permanently authorizing the Corporation for Travel Promotion and Brand USA's efforts abroad; and

Hiring an additional 3,500 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to help improve the entry process for international visitors to the U.S.

"Getting anything passed into law is by nature a hard, slow process," Dow said. "But the White House and a number of lawmakers of both parties have signaled their support for these basic, common-sense measures. It may not happen tomorrow or next week, but I'm confident that Congress and the president will reach accord on these steps that will improve the travel process and bolster the nation's economy as a whole."



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