White House indicated that President Barack Obama today would sign an executive
order and announce other initiatives to facilitate inbound international travel
and tourism. Following a year in which the U.S. State Department issued 17
percent more visas than during fiscal 2010, Obama's plans call for expanding reciprocal
international trusted-travel programs, adding Taiwan and other countries to the
Visa Waiver Program, streamlining visa processing especially in Brazil and
China, appointing new members to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and
creating a "national travel and tourism strategy."
executive order specifically charges the departments of State and Homeland
Security to interview within three weeks of receiving applications 80 percent
of all non-immigrant visa applicants. In China and Brazil, they are tasked with
increasing this year visa processing capacity by 40 percent. "During the
past five years, visa issuances have increased 234 percent in Brazil and 124
percent in China," according to State Department information.
select circumstances, qualified foreign visitors who were interviewed and
thoroughly screened in conjunction with a prior visa application may be able to
renew their visas without undergoing another interview," according to the
the administration is boosting its visa-issuing capabilities in China and
Brazil, those countries have not been nominated for the Visa Waiver Program. In
China, absence from VWP is seen by some as a barrier to an Open Skies treaty with the United States. The State Department formally requested Taiwan's
inclusion in VWP, and along with DHS, will expand to other countries that program
and the Global Entry trusted traveler program.
executive order also charges the secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to
lead "an interagency task force to develop recommendations for a national
travel and tourism strategy to promote domestic and international travel
opportunities throughout the United States, thereby expanding job creation."
The taskforce will coordinate with the Corporation for Travel Promotion,
created by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, and the Tourism Policy Council.
the Department of Commerce is charged with "maintaining a publicly
available website with key information and statistics from across the Federal
Government to assist industry and travelers in understanding visa processes in
key travel and tourism markets, and entry times into the United States."
addition to the executive order, the White House announced that the
administration will issue a final rule to make permanent the Global Entry
program, which currently operates at 20 U.S. airports and includes 246,000
members. The final rule would expand the program to airports in Charlotte,
Denver, Minneapolis and Phoenix.
announced today, Commerce Secretary Bryson appointed of 32 private-sector CEOs
to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to address "travel
facilitation, visa policy, improving the international travel entry experience,
aviation security, energy security, crisis communications and research and
data, among other issues." New board members include JetBlue Airways chief
commercial officer Robin Hayes, Marriott International executive vice president
Kathleen Matthews and US Airways CEO Doug Parker.