Americans used to enjoy warm receptions wherever they went in the world. Those days are long gone and without getting in to a discussion of foreign policy, some recent studies have shown that people's views are also shaped by how well they know the country. Those who visit the US are 42% more likely to have a favorable view of the country. And public support around the world IS important to American foreign policy.

So the fortress mentality at US consulates and ports of entry can be viewed as serving our enemy's interests. While we need to have a secure immigration system, we need to be smart about it and not have policies that are so restrictive that people don't even bother trying to come to visit the US.

I received the following email this week from an organization trying to promote tourism to the US - the Discover America Partnership. Their work is important if we're to get the economic and foreign policy benefits associated with foreign tourism:

October 16, 2007


  When It Comes to Travel, the Deck Is Stacked
Against America


every developed nation, other than the United States, operates a nationally
coordinated travel promotion program - and it shows. International travel to
most world destinations is increasing, but overseas travel to the United States
has declined 17 percent since 9/11.

Most of these same nations charge
U.S. visitors entry or exit fees. The United States charges no such fees. In
effect, U.S. travelers are funding the travel promotion campaigns of foreign
governments. When it comes to competing for international travelers, America
isn't even in the game

America Needs to Get in the


The Solution? The Travel Promotion Act of
2007 (S.1661 / H.R. 3232)
would establish a nationally coordinated
travel promotion campaign paid for by a $10 fee on overseas travelers from visa
waiver countries and matching funds provided by the U.S. travel industry. A
study by Oxford Economics shows that travel promotion would yield at

  • 1.6 million new
    visitors per year

  • $8 billion per year
    in new visitor spending

  • $850 million per
    year in new federal tax revenue

For more information on the importance of overseas travel to the United
States, visit