America not popular, and they know it

This has been an ongoing theme for a little while now (see Are America's Surly Doormen damaging Tourism? and Florida not as popular as before ) and I notice Jeremy Skidmore has been writing about it again in the Telegraph...

But I was surprised by the open and heartfelt style of this official statement emailed to me today by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA)...

The following is a statement by Roger Dow, President and CEO, Travel Industry Association of America, on the latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project revealing that “America's global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan.”

“Pew’s latest survey sends a stark message: America’s image is in crisis. Our nation is increasingly viewed with distrust. The implications – economic and diplomatic – are considerable.

There are major issues impacting our global standing, such as the ongoing fight against terrorism and conflict in Iraq. But solutions do not need to be limited to these areas. In fact, we need to find a different way to present ourselves to the world – one that goes beyond the headlines of the day.

We embrace Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes’ recent call for enhanced ‘people-to-people’ communications. It is the American people who represent the best of America – our ideals, spirit and way of life.

Unfortunately, the American people are underutilised in the battle of ideas.

Travel and tourism presents a unique opportunity to empower the American people to do what they do best: represent America. The more international travellers that come to the U.S., the more ambassadors we create for our country. Studies consistently show that people from other countries who visit the U.S. leave with a significantly higher opinion of our nation and our people than those who have never been here.

But, like public opinion of the U.S., our share of the expanding global travel market continues to decline – more than 36 percent in the last 15 years.

It is time for policymakers to embrace travel and tourism and recognise its potential to boost our image around the globe. When it comes to improving America’s image, there is no substitute for experiencing our country.”

If you look at the Pew link, you'll see that 'Favourable Opinions of the USA' in Great Britain have dropped from 83% in 2000 to 56% in 2006. No wonder he is alarmed.


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