President Barack Obama on January 19, 2012, approved streamlining foreign tourist visa applications for international tourists who wish to visit the United States. The move specifically focuses on increasing the number of Chinese and Brazilian tourists in order to boost tourism and spur job growth.
President Obama announced his plan at the Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida. The park, city, and state all heavily rely on tourism dollars for their economy.
Disney and other American tourism industry leaders have been advocating for more efficient visa procedures, which were severely tightened after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world,” Obama said. “The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It is that simple.”
The visa changes do not necessarily reflect Obama’s vision for immigration reform. Instead, the move is being interpreted as a concentrated effort to spur the still lagging job market. Still, the order is in welcoming arms for tourists and immigrants worldwide. Obama said the new steps would help cut through red tape and make it easier for foreign tourists to come to the United States.
An estimated one million jobs will be created in the next decade according to the White House if the United States focused on increasing its role in the international travel market.
The plans details include:
* An increase in visa processing in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012. Furthermore, the order targets 80 percent of the applicants to be interviewed within a three week period.
* A pilot program to speed the visa process for applicants from China and Brazil. This will include waiving interviews for low risk applicants.
* Adding Taiwan as a participating visa-waiver country.