Insta-CoGo: Where Have All the Tourists Gone?
The dollar is so depressed compared with the euro and most other currencies in the developed world that you'd think overseas travelers would be flocking to the United States to scoop up bargains.
Yet they are staying away in droves. There were 2 million fewer overseas travelers to the States in 2007 than in 2000, even though there was a 10 percent increase in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In other words, since 9/11, the number of overseas travelers has been slowly creeping back toward pre-9/11 numbers. Given how much of a bargain we've become, and given an overall increase in travel, this country should be awash in visitors.
In fact, the United States had 10 million fewer overseas visitors in 2007 than it would have if it simply kept pace with post-9/11 travel trends.
Theories, anyone, of why people with vacation money are traveling like mad, but avoiding our fair land?
The travel industry is focusing on solving the problem. Legislation called the "Travel Promotion Act" is currently being considered in Congress. Under the act, visitors from "visa waiver" countries -- in other words, visitors from places that we don't require to pay for a visa -- would pay a fee, probably about $10, to the U.S. government when visiting. That would raise an estimated $100 million. The travel industry would match that, and the $200 million would be used to promote travel to the United States.
The United States, by the way, is one of the rare countries that doesn't have a national tourism program.
By Cindy Loose |
March 11, 2008; 7:08 AM ET
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