Will Obama Make Us Friendlier To Foreign Tourists?

Britons encouraged by the election of Barack Obama are likely to visit the United States in “record numbers,” predicts The Daily Telegraph.

Obama is popular in Europe, and there seems to be hope that he will change the border security procedures that have discouraged foreign visitors. The Telegraph polled its readers and found 80 percent more willing to visit the United States since the presidential election.

Roger Dow of the Travel Industry Association of America told the Telegraph that Obama supported the Travel Promotion Act, which is intended to lure more international visitors to the United States. The act passed the House and awaits Senate approval.

It’s unclear as yet exactly what the new president might do to improve the entry process for foreign visitors and stem complaints of delays, rudeness and intimidation. It’s fairly routine to see huge lines for foreign visitors in American airports next to much shorter lines for U.S. citizens.

It’s worth noting that the reverse is not routinely true in many of the countries these visitors come from. I’m sure there are variations, but I haven’t noticed myself waiting considerably longer than EU passport holders to get into European countries.

And it’s worth wondering whether more and better staffing of immigration and customs stations at our ports of entry would pay for themselves by encouraging more tourists to come here and spend money.

It’s also worth pointing out that another factor may turn out to be even more important to foreign tourism — the recent surge of the dollar against the British pound and the euro. Visitors may appreciate a friendlier atmosphere, but they may prefer a bargain.


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