On Thursday, January 19th, President Obama made an announcement, that he has signed an executive order to make the visa process in the United States less restrictive. It is aimed at giving a boost to the lagging tourism industry in the United States. He made the announcement while visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando. Florida is highly dependent on tourism dollars to fund its economy. It is also an important state in the upcoming 2012 presidential elections and the announcement was met with favorable response from officials in the Sunshine State.
The president had to take matters into his own hands and issue the executive order because Congress has not been able to come up with a measure that both parties and both houses could agree on. Since 9/11 it has become increasingly difficult for travelers to the US who require a visa to get that visa in a timely manner. The new order will eliminate visas for travelers from Taiwan and it will ease the requirements for residents of China and Brazil both of which have the money necessary to make vacationing in the US an attractive choice.
The U.S. Travel Association has been pushing hard for visa reform and they posted a positive comment on their website after the announcement of the executive order was released. The group’s president Roger Dow stated “The steps the president took today are significant and will boost travel to and within the United States. Most importantly, they will lead to new American jobs and get our economy moving. His timing could not be better. Travel is an essential industry for our nation and a bipartisan issue that can unite our country and rally us forward.”
The reform of the visa process should begin to bring positive results to the travel industry within a few months. Easing the visa process will allow more visitors to visit the United States just in time for the summer tourism season. With tourists being able to travel to the United States with fewer restrictions, the hotel industry will soon feel the effects in a positive way. More tourists means more hotel rooms needed which also means more staff to provide services for these guests. The same is true for the airline industry as well as travel agents and tour operators.
In September 2011, the number of employees in the travel industry fell by 10,000, which is a dramatic drop after a year that actually showed growth. Hopefully, getting more tourists in from Taiwan, China and Brazil will mean that not only will these employees be able to be rehired but additional jobs may also be created. According to U.S. Travel Association the changes in the United States visa process could lead to “1.3 million jobs by the year 2010 and $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.” They also state that “The U.S. travel industry is a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, representing 1.8 trillion in economic output and supporting 14 million American jobs.”
It seems at the moment that this is a win-win proposition and it is about time that someone in Washington took a positive step to help the travel industry to survive the tough economic times.