US is Most Unfriendly to its Visitors

9-11 has done more to harm the US than just the security troubles. It has set back its interactability with the rest of the world a great deal. The image of the US has taken a beating for sure. Some Americans will pooh-pooh such a notion and not care much about it… but for those who would like to work in the rest of the world, the odds get worse eevryday!

To drive home the point, the Discover America Partnership released the result of a global survey on Monday which showed that international travelers see the United States as the world’s worst country in terms of getting a visa and, once you have it, making your way past rude immigration officials.

The survey, of 2,011 international travelers in 16 countries, was conducted by RT Strategies, a Virginia-based polling firm, for the Discover America Partnership, a group launched in September with multimillion-dollar backing from a range of companies that include the InterContinental Hotels Group, Anheuser Busch and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The survey showed that the United States was ranked ‘the worst’ in terms of visas and immigration procedures by twice the percentage of travellers as the next destination regarded as unfriendly–the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

More than half of the travelers surveyed said US immigration officials were rude and two-thirds said they feared they would be detained on arriving in the United States for a simple mistake in their paperwork or for saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.

The survey was taken between Oct 25 and Nov 9 against the backdrop of growing concern in parts of the US business community over a steady decline in the number of foreigners visiting the United States.

“Between 2000 and 2006, the number of overseas visitors, excluding those from Mexico and Canada, has declined by 17 per cent,” said Geoff Freeman, Executive Director of the Discover America Partnership, ‘and business travel in that period has dropped 10 per cent’.

Travel Industry Association statistics show that the US share in world tourism declined from 7.4 per cent in 2000 to 6 per cent last year. A one-percentage point increase, according to the association, would mean 7.5 million additional arrivals, $12.3 billion in additional spending, 150,000 additional US jobs, $3.3 billion in additional payroll and $2.1. billion in additional taxes.

With about 50 million visitors a year, the United States is the world’s third most-popular destination, after Spain and France.

“The problem is that since September 11, this country has viewed visitors more as a threat than an opportunity. The entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is keeping foreign visitors away,” Freeman said.

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