US hopes to draw 100 mn visitors annually by 2021
Washington, May 11 (IANS) The US government has announced a national strategy to attract 100 million international visitors annually by 2021 in a bid to boost economic growth and job creation.
US Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Thursday announced the National Tourism and Travel Strategy, a blueprint for expanding travel to the US and laying out concrete steps including streamlining the visa process, reported Xinhua.
"This administration will continue to do everything we can to support travel and tourism -- our number one services export -- which will help support millions of American jobs," Bryson said in a statement released by the White House.
"As our nation's economy continues to gain strength, tourism -- especially international tourism -- holds the promise of being an economic engine for the country," Salazar noted.
The US State Department was investing approximately $68 million in 2012 on existing facilities in Brazil and $22 million in China to add interview windows, expand consular office space and improve waiting areas, said the statement.
The Obama administration was also adding staff and streamlining its operations to continue to keep visa interview wait times low. Travellers currently wait less than one week for an appointment at US consulates in China, less than one week in large Brazilian cities, including Brasilia.
The State Department intended to double the number of diplomats performing consular work in China and Brazil over the next year to offer timely visa services to qualified applicants.
The travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion from domestic and international travel and supported 7.6 million jobs in 2011, with international travel to the US resulting in a record $153 billion in receipts and supporting 1.2 million jobs, figures from the White House revealed.
The 100 million international visitors the United States aimed at attracting by 2021 were estimated to spend $250 billion every year.
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