Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Arthur Frommer On Fortress America


Sherman Oaks, California

Travel guru Arthur Frommer spoke last week with the NYT Freakonomics blog:

Q: As the dollar continues to fall against the euro, why aren’t more Europeans traveling to America?

A: Because of the psychological, bureaucratic, and political barriers that we have erected to hinder their travels here. In many of the countries that don’t enjoy our visa-waiver program, it takes three to four months simply to receive an appointment to apply for a visa. Once would-be travelers finally get inside one of our consulates, they are questioned about personal characteristics having nothing to do with security or terrorism, but rather with the possibility that they will overstay their visas and become illegal immigrants. One tour operator handling incoming travel from Poland recently said that half of the people he wishes to send to the U.S. are turned down for visas because they are young, single, without property or homes that they own, etc., and are thus more likely to stay in the U.S. illegally.

When people do travel here, they are treated like criminals upon arrival at customs, or, at best, received with cold discourtesy. The result of all this is that travel to the U.S. has fallen off by close to 20 percent since the year 2000, while most other countries are enjoying a rise of 20 percent or more in their incoming tourism! The decline of our own tourism industry creates a loss of more than $100 billion a year, tens of billions of dollars in tax revenues, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. The administration’s handling of the matter is a scandal. And, by creating the impression among people of the world that we are an arrogant, cold, and unfriendly people, we make ourselves less safe.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One tour operator handling incoming travel from Poland recently said that half of the people he wishes to send to the U.S. are turned down for visas because they are young, single, without property or homes that they own, etc., and are thus more likely to stay in the U.S. illegally."

Uh, duh. Unfortunately, the U.S.'s hospitality toward visitors has been so abused over the years (people overstaying visas) that it has come to this, but he blames the U.S. for trying to correct its problem. What a self-interest-led tard.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh duh should be directed towards the poster of that stupid comment. The fact is that the U.S. is lucky we receive any tourists from abroad; we are the least welcoming major destination in the world. I don't think the U.S. has a surplus of Polish tourists overstaying their welcome, but even well-heeled German and Japanese tourists face problems, and why, none of them want to stay here?

Yet we make it easy for Mexicans to visit the U.S.; our policies are not coherent.

3:02 AM  

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