Today the Obama Administration unveiled the National Tourism and Travel Strategy, a long-term roadmap for America’s travel and tourism industry that aims to attract and welcome 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. The National Strategy will bolster job creation through a range of steps to promote the United States as a premier tourism destination.
The Department of State plays a significant role in supporting both economic prosperity and border security. Over the past year, the Department of State has made significant improvements to the visa process – without compromising security – to contribute to the President’s travel and tourism initiatives and to generate economic growth and job creation.
In key growth markets for international travel, such as China and Brazil, visa interview wait times have dramatically decreased. Visa processing capacity has increased due to innovative programs that meet the extraordinary demand for visas, while implementing permanent solutions to stay ahead of this growing demand for years to come.
Every day, U.S. diplomats and consular adjudicators are working hard to expand visa processing capacity. The Department of State is making improvements to existing facilities in key markets such as Mexico and India and investing in two new consulates in Brazil. A new pilot program is making room for first-time visitors to the United States and streamlining the visa renewal process for certain low-risk, previously-interviewed visa applicants.
President Obama committed to increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program, and the Department of State is working to put more countries on the path to membership. For example, Secretary Clinton nominated Taiwan for inclusion in the program in December 2011, and in April, President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that the United States and Brazil are committed to work together to satisfy the requirements of the program.
In addition to efforts to streamline the visa process, the Department of State will continue to work closely with Brand USA, the public-private partnership charged with promoting travel to the United States. The Department of State will leverage its overseas presence and public diplomacy programs to welcome more visitors to America’s great destinations. With partners in the travel industry, perceptions of the visa process will be improved and send a positive message to welcome tourists from all over the world to come and visit America.