BUSH PULLS IN THE WELCOME MATT-- TOURISTS & THEIR CASH GO ELSEWHERE
Last April I did a little post over at the AroundTheWorldBlog about Jonathan Tisch, CEO of the Loews Hotel chain, author of Chocolates On The Pillow Aren't Enough-- Reinventing the Customer Experience, Chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable, and a member of the Department of Commerce's U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. We talked at the time about how severely off U.S. Tourism has been since Bush took over the White House.
Foreign tourism is down nearly 20% since Bush, at heart a paranoid, provincial hayseed and a xenophobic nativist, took over the White House. The Republicans may have once been a business friendly party but now... well, during the Bush era our economy has lost $93 billion in revenue from global tourism (and $15 billion in taxes)-- not to mention 58 million fewer visitors and nearly 200,000 lost jobs. Last week the Department of Commerce released figures that reveal that overseas travel to the U.S. remains below pre-9/11 levels in six of the top eight overseas markets-- Mexico and Canada being the two exceptions. Travel to the U.S. in 2006 fell further in five out of the top eight overseas markets. A 2006 survey of overseas travelers conducted by the Discover America Partnership found negative perceptions of the U.S. entry process to be the greatest deterrent to visiting the country. That's not pro-Business and it's not good customer service. Tourists and businessmen from Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Brazil are opting to go elsewhere.
Yesterday Agence France Presse ran a story that made it clear the trend has accelerated, 'Unwelcoming' U.S. Sees Sharp Fall In Visitors Since 9/11. The reason: "foreigners don't feel welcome... Travelers around the world feel the US entry experience is among the world's worst." According to the story this has cost America "94 billion dollars in lost visitor spending, nearly 200,000 jobs and 16 billion dollars in lost tax revenue." Good job, Bushie.
Last year, only 56 percent of Britons had a positive opinion of the United States compared with 83 percent in 2000, the Pew Global Attitudes report for 2006 shows.
Thirty-nine percent of French people saw the United States in a positive light last year, compared with 62 percent in 2000.
In Turkey 12 percent had good things to say about the United States last year-- 40 percentage points down on 2000.
"The United States has to do what every other nation in the world does, and that is to promote itself to visitors," [Discover America Executive Director Geoff] Freeman said.
"If you look at visitor numbers from the UK before 9/11, we had 4.8 million visitors. Last year, the number was 4.1 million.
"Looking to 2010, the Department of Commerce is projecting an increase in those numbers, but only of one percent over the course of 10 years.
"If I ran a business that had one percent growth in 10 years, I'd be fired," Freeman said.
Maybe when Off The Table Pelosi is finished doing her fundraiser for Al Wynn Saturday, someone should introduce her to Freeman.
UPDATE: BUSH'S AMERICA ISN'T JUST NASTY TO ARABS EITHER
No, it's got a mind of its own now and it strikes out against anyone "foreign," even Scandinavians. Andrew Sullivan has a story today about a major band from Finland getting the kind of treatment that turns people against our country-- and at Larry Craig International Airport no less.