Travel and tourism to the United States adds nearly $2.0 trillion per year to the U.S. economy and is America’s No. 1 services export. The US Government is in the process for a pilot program using secure, remote videoconferencing technology to conduct interviews with those applying for a tourist or business visa to the US.
The growing economies in countries like Brazil, China and India require new visa process mechanisms to address the high visa demand, including videoconferencing. A U.S. Travel analysis found that if the United States doubled arrivals from just these three key countries over the next five years, America would gain $24.2 billion more in export revenues and 207,600 jobs related to international travel and tourism that would be supported by increased visitations. The advantage to increase tourism to the US when offering a secure video conference is instead of personal consulate visits is obvious.
- It’s secure. Videoconferencing can use encryption technologies to capture documents, fingerprint data and other biometric data needed to maintain the highest levels of security.
- It’s already used by the government. Currently, the Department of State regularly conducts secure videoconferencing from U.S. consulates around the world, as do the Defense Department and intelligence agencies.
- It’s efficient. The setup of the cameras for the video call is a onetime event that occurs in advance. Zoom, pan and tilt functions are as simple as moving a cursor; connecting is instantaneous; and initiating remote biometric capture, such as fingerprints, is a “click of a mouse.” Videoconferencing improves efficiency.
- It’s cost effective. Using videoconferencing in geographically large countries will enable U.S. consulates to expand access to visa services to millions of potential visitors without the cost of opening additional offices and without reducing the level of security for visa interviews.
- It’s a boost to the U.S. economy. By eliminating the cost, planning and effort associated with traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest U.S. consulate, videoconferencing facilitates travel. Increasing the number of international visitors to the United States is a boost to the national and local economies, allowing communities across America to sell more of their goods and services to visitors and ultimately create new U.S. jobs.
By encouraging more travel, the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill will bring more jobs and more economic opportunity to communities across the United States.” The U.S. Travel Association today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operation and Related Programs for approving a fiscal year 2014 spending measure that will make it easier for international travelers to apply for a visa to visit the United States.”
America’s travel community is grateful to Subcommittee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX-17), Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Sam Farr (D-CA-20), Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) and all of the members of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee for creating jobs, for being forward thinking and for understanding the value of travel exports,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
“Videoconferencing is secure, efficient and cost effective. Its use will enable U.S. consulates to expand access to visa services to millions of potential visitors – while maintaining the highest level of security for visa interviews – without the cost of opening additional offices.”
The spending bill approved by the Subcommittee directs the Secretary of State to carry out and evaluate a pilot program using secure, remote videoconferencing technology, similar to what is used by the private sector, for conducting visa application interviews in geographically large countries. “Travel adds nearly $2.0 trillion per year to the U.S. economy and is America’s No. 1 services export,” said Dow. “By encouraging more travel, the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill will bring more jobs and more economic opportunity to communities across the United States.”
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