Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Frosty welcome discourages US tourism

AFP , WASHINGTON

The number of foreign visitors to the US has plummeted since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington because foreigners don't feel welcome, tourism professionals said on Thursday.

"Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has experienced a 17 percent decline in overseas travel, costing America US$94 billion in lost visitor spending, nearly 200,000 jobs and US$16 billion in lost tax revenue," the Discover America advocacy campaign said in a statement.

Chairman Stevan Porter lamented the "extraordinary decline" in the number of overseas visitors to the US, while the advocacy group's executive director, Geoff Freeman, blamed the slump on the shabby welcome many foreigners feel they get in the US.

"Travelers around the world feel the US entry experience is among the world's worst," Freeman said, calling on the US government to work with the private sector to make visa acquisition more efficient, the entry process traveler-friendly, and to improve communication.

Last year, only 56 percent of Britons had a positive opinion of the US compared with 83 percent in 2000, the Pew Global Attitudes report for last year shows.

Thirty-nine percent of French people saw the US in a positive light last year, compared with 62 percent in 2000. In Turkey 12 percent had good things to say about the US last year -- 40 percentage points down on 2000.

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