While speaking at Disney World today, President Obama embraced the provisions of bipartisan legislation introduced this past September by U.S. Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV) and Bill Posey (R-FL) to help attract more international tourists to U.S. travel destinations. The Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act (H.R. 3039) currently has 35 cosponsors, including six from Florida.
"Florida has so many wonderful attractions, from family friendly theme parks to beautiful beaches and lot's of sunshine," said Representative Posey. "The fact is the United States as a whole has so much to see and our nation, our small businesses, can benefit greatly from streamlining the process for business and tourist visas. I'm glad to hear the President's onboard with our initiative."
"More business travelers and tourists visiting America will create good-paying jobs and help grow our economy," said Congressman Heck. "It's great to see the President publicly support the bill we proposed in September. Representative Posey and the other Florida Representatives who have worked on this legislation deserve credit for their dedication to job creation."
H.R. 3039: Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act
· Creates 1.3 million jobs and generates $859 billion in economic output by 2020
· Improve the State Department's visa process
· Non-partisan, non-controversial (35 cosponsors; half are Democrats)
· The key barriers to increasing overseas travel to America are:
1. Lack of personnel to process and interview visa applicants and lack of access to a U.S. consular facility.
2. Poor planning and communication to applicants.
· Without compromising national security, directs the State Department to streamline and reform its tourist and business traveler visa application system to accommodate the increasing demand for travel to the U.S.
· Establishes a visa video-conferencing pilot program to increase consular accessibility and reduce interview wait times
· Requires the Secretary of State to post historical data on its website regarding visa processing and interview wait times to allow for better planning for those who wish to travel to the United States
· Directs the Secretary of State to report to Congress on non-immigrant visa demand and strategies for meeting those demands specifically in key high-growth areas
· Under certain conditions, gives the Secretary of State discretion in modifying agreements with certain countries to allow for longer visa validity periods
H.R. 3039, the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act, is support by the following organizations:
· Air Transportation Association
· American Hotel and Lodging Association
· Caesars Gaming
· Consumer Electronics Association
· Hilton Hotels
· International Association of Exhibitions
· Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
· National Retailers Federation
· Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association
· Nevada Restaurant Association
· Sands Corporation
· U.S. Chamber of Commerce
· U.S. Travel Association
· Wynn Corporation