What’s wrong with this picture? An anemic dollar is making the United States a bargain and worldwide travel is booming, but industry estimates suggest an 11 percent drop in the number of overseas visitors last year, compared with 2000. “America’s open door,” says Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association, “is a brick wall.”
When I first saw the statistic in a TIA announcement last week, I wasn’t surprised. But this morning I read an insightful write-up on the issue in the Business Journal that made me do a double-take. Seems foreign media is really trashing the U.S. as a destination.
For example, the Journal cites a scathing review by Matt Rudd of London’s Sunday Times.
Nowhere else can a visitor expect such a spirit-crushingly frosty reception. A preflight e-interrogation, epic queues at immigration, thin-lipped questioning from aggressive border guards, and an outside chance of a rubber-gloved rectal rummage are all part of the fun.
Rudd advised his readers to consider “other more welcoming holiday options. Such as Iran or North Korea.”
Tom Wharton at the Salt Lake City Tribune noted the critical article, too, and added one of his own — a letter from a friend about traveling to the states.
Traveling through the USA is not very easy for us anymore. The U.S. government wants to know everything. Who you are. Who you will meet (and how did you meet these Americans and are you sure they are not criminals!). Where you will stay (this is the biggest problem. I’d like to backpack and go with the flow. Impossible in the USA for us at the moment). And when you will leave. I am not a terrorist.
All of this has left some foreign media wondering if America is more hassle than it’s worth. (Fortunately, the answer is usually “yes” but I can’t image everyone will agree.)
Has Lady Liberty dropped the torch and extended her middle finger to tourists?
Yes, and if something isn’t done about it soon, America will become a second-rate, B-list destination for international visitors.
Don’t believe me? Just watch.