17 April 2006

Are America's surly doormen damaging tourism?

Travelmole has an interesting report from the World Travel & Tourism summit in Washington DC at which the US homeland secretary Michael Chertoff reportedly recognised that increased security measures at US airports is damaging inbound tourism.

"Americans lose when we put up rules, when we keep people [out] who are good people who want to come to work, study and play in the United States" is the quote.

What is striking is the tone of the first four (and only, at this point) comments posted at the bottom of the article. They all complain of long queues and bully-boy treatment by US Immigration officers who seem to consider all foreigners as undesirable, and probably illegal, aliens.

And remember, this is not a consumer magazine, this is a news site/community forum for registered travel industry workers - people who by definition are better travelled than most and can make comparisons.


The truth is, of course, that there are plenty of nice immigration officers (I've met some of them!) and not every entry these days into the USA is a grim and humiliating experience. But there is an increased risk that your arrival in America will not be joyous, and for some potential visitors that's enough to make them pick an alternative destination (Europe, Canada, Australia) where they are more likely to feel welcome from the word 'go'.

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