Tourism to the United States is booming as several countries are eligible for the visa waiver program. Last year, the Obama Administration made efforts to welcome more foreign visitors to the United States because some foreign-born residents were forced to wait more than four months for a tourist visa, Roll Call reported.
According to travel industry professionals, the number of Chinese tourists to the United States will increase by 13 percent over the next year. In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million China-natives visited the States, partly because of the streamlined visa application process. The American Chinese Tourist Association has been focusing on outbound travel from China since 2008 when both governments agreed to let leisure travelers visit the United States on group tours.
“Visas are government tools to ensure safe and orderly international travel,” said Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China, according to the Xinhua News Agency. “And what makes our work worthwhile is the deep and meaningful relationship between our two great peoples. It brings American and Chinese culture together and builds bridges of understanding between us.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 36 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. It also eliminates the need for travelers to go through the interview process. As this initiative has boosted travel to the United States, one of the biggest supporters is the U.S. Travel Association, which released a report in 2001 proving that garnering a larger portion of international travelers could increase exports by $390 billion in the next decade.
Although China is not a part of the Visa Waiver Program, Chinese applicants now have only a five day waiting period for visa interview, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing intends to continue this streamlined process.