International Tourists Fear Bush's America
Washington, DC April 24th, 2007 --- A recent news item should send shock waves around the US Tourism industry and make people realize the damage done to the economy in the name of the Bush Administration. In reports reminicent of Stalin's Soviet Union, or Hilter's Germany visitors are frightened to come to the USA:
by David Wilkening
If you thought of crime…or terrorism…think again. "Travelers are more afraid of US government officials than the threat of terrorism or crime," says Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership. He added: "Whether it's reality or not doesn't matter," he says. "We have a problem on our hands."
A Discover America survey has found that by a margin of more than two to one, the US ranked first among 10 destinations that included Africa and the Middle East as the most unfriendly to international travelers. More than half of those polled said immigration officials are rude, and that the US government does not want their travel business.
Almost two-third came up with a concern that might surprise Americans -- foreign tourists were worried they will be detained for hours because of a simple mistake or a misstatement at a US airport.
But the survey also found positives: 72 percent of travelers said they had a "great" time once they got into the US. Sixty-three percent said they felt more favorable toward the United States as a result of their visit.
The subject of how the US can attract more international visitors has become an increasingly hot topic in recent months. The Discover America Partnership was formed late last year in an effort to attract 10 million more international visitors a year. International visitation to the US reached more than 51 million in 2006, nearly tied with the record of the same amount set in 2000. While the numbers show improvement since 9-11, executives are quick to point out that much of that growth came from Canada and Mexico, while larger and more lucrative markets have faded. "
I know from meeting visitors in Washington, DC that the treatment, especially of international journalists has been disgusting. First hand I have seen power drunk minority employees at the airports greeting even mild complaints with threats of imprisonment. Usually it's for throwing laptop computers or mobile communication devices into baskets and onto the belts. Once I stopped to look at the harrassment of one old lady, and was pushed with threats of arrest and imprisonment for loitering. Most of these hastily recruited, often untrained, and with a fair sprinkling of felons and jailbirds may ease the unemployment lines, but do nothing for the country, or airport security.
The fault also lies with the leaders of the tourism industry, in particular TIA and the WTTC. They turned the World Summit held in Washington DC into a ass kissing carnival with the Bush Neocons who caused the problems in the first place. A totally wasted opportunity to showcase the best of US Tourism. Marriott, Disney and TIA owe the American public a sincere apology for their bad choice of program, and speakers.
The world has to hold it's breath for another two years until the Bush's are back on their Texas Ranch and another administration can try and sort out the mess they have created. Hopefully Bush will take his medication and not attack Iran to show how Macho he is.
The scenario for high value US tourists could get a lot worse before the new President can start the healing process to make it better.