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Long customs lines deter overseas visits to the U.S., survey says

March 19, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • The Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport welcomes visitors from around the globe. Because of a long and confusing customs process to visit the U.S., 43% of overseas visitors said they would recommend others to avoid a trip to America.
The Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport welcomes… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

Because of a long and confusing customs process to visit the U.S., 43% of overseas visitors said they would recommend others to avoid a trip to America.

That was one of the conclusions from a survey of 1,200 overseas visitors, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Assn., a trade group for the nation's travel industry.

The organization has long advocated that the federal government improve the visa process to make it faster and easier for foreign travelers to visit the U.S.

Spending by international tourists traveling to and visiting the U.S. reached a record $168.1 billion in 2012, an increase of about 9% from the previous year, according to federal statistics.

The trade group argues that if the U.S. spends about $150 million to hire 1,000 additional customs and border patrol officers to make the entry process faster, international spending would jump by tens of billions of dollars.

“As the United States spends millions to recapture the world's interest and inspire international travelers to visit, we are failing to address a galling entry experience that is driving 43% of our guests to tell others to avoid travel to our country,” said Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the association.

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