ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Foreign travel reporters who came to an industry conference weren't surprised to hear that international travel to the U.S. hasn't recovered since 9/11. They say travel here conjures up too many problem areas.
Travel and tourism officials held a media event at the Travel Industry Assn.'s International Pow Wow to promise to do a better job rolling out the welcome mat. They were upstaged, however, by reporters who told horror stories about protracted visa application processes and lengthy airport security lines, reported The Los Angeles Times.
German public radio's Rudiger Edelmann said he spent 95 minutes in a winding queue leading to an understaffed immigration desk in Chicago and, even with a two-hour layover, missed his flight and was separated from his luggage.
The story didn't surprise Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and of the Travel Industry Assn., said the Times. "Our process is neither friendly nor efficient, nor does it welcome foreign visitors," he said. "We are leaving an enormous vacuum around the world for other destinations to step into."
Global travel as a whole, in fact, has been on the rise since 1992 — up 61% as of 2006. But the U.S. hasn't grabbed its share of that increase. What's more, the number of international visitors hasn't rebounded to pre-Sept. 11 levels. There were 51.2 million foreign visitors in 2000 and 51 million in 2006. The fall-off has cost the U.S. $94 billion, according to an industry study.
Source: TravelMole.com & Los Angeles Times