According to the New Zealand Herald, the U.S. is losing market share as an international tourist destination (and, one could extrapolate, internationals meetings destination as well). From the article:
- In a recent poll of international travellers, commissioned by Discover America Partnership, a coalition of US tourist organisations, 70 per cent of respondents said they feared US officials more than terrorists or criminals. Another 66 per cent worried they would be detained for some minor blunder, such as wrongly filling out an official form or being mistaken for a terrorist, while 55 per cent say officials are "rude."
It also found the U.S. to be the world's "most unfriendly" destination for foreign travelers by a 2:1 margin. Ouch.
- Interestingly, the poll suggested US foreign policy was not "a significant factor" in global dissatisfaction with the US, but that US entry policies were. It is slowly dawning in Washington that, unless visitors are treated better upon arrival, the US will continue to lose hearts and minds.
There are efforts under way to make the process less onerous and a little more friendly (the Travel Industry Association of America has been working tirelessly on it, for one), but the focus of the government remains on safety, not being user-friendly, so I wouldn't expect too many changes in the near future, except maybe in the marketing of America. I guess we'll have to wait and see...