Declining foreign tourism

Two recent reports on US tourism confirm a well-known fact. The US is not exactly a welcoming country to foreign visitors. Though widely perceived as a glamorous, powerful destination and the world’s most important country, the doors are only half-open! The excessive paperwork, complicated visa process and long waits have done their bit to slow down travel to the US. Over the past 5 years, the US has actually seen a decline in international tourism while other countries have seen a boom. The reasons are not hard to find – the continuing threat of terrorism and security concerns make the open door policy all but a remnant of another time. WTTC reports a loss of $20 billion a year over a period of 15 years due to the sluggish state of the industry. Another eye-opening stat is the # of international students enrolling at US universities. Students are often the most persistent of potential visitors to the US because they have a longer duration of stay and bigger aspirations than the average globe-trotting tourist. That number too has definitely dropped in the last few years. Recognizing that increased security is a part of the new American experience might help. The image of a free, beckoning country of Hollywood-style dreams and riches is at odds with the prospect of long lines at airports, consulates and year-long waits for visas!

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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