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US to improve visa wait times for Indians as country faces massive tourism fall US visa
In view the Statue of Liberty in New York City/ courtesy: Soumyadev Sarkar/IBNS

US to improve visa wait times for Indians as country faces massive tourism fall

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 27 Jul 2023, 11:38 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: Even as tourism has bounced back post-COVID-19 pandemic in most parts of the world, the United States is lagging behind owing to the long visa wait time.

International tourist arrivals remain at 26 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to a June 2023 monthly report from the US Travel Association.

At the end of 2022, international visitor spending in the US was at $99 billion, just over 50 percent of where it stood in 2019.

The number is hugely behind that of 2019, when the US received 79.4 million visitors, who spent $181 billion. 

"The lag is very significant, and we are very concerned," Geoff Freeman, US Travel's chief executive officer was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

"We estimate that this year alone we're going to lose about 2.6 million international visitors and $7 billion less in spending," he said.

The US travel industry isn't expected to recover to 2019 levels until 2025.

Those two additional years will translate into "billions of dollars of lost spending, of lost jobs," said Freeman.

As of early July, visa wait times remained above 400 days for first-time applicants from top markets including India that do not qualify for visa waivers, according to US Travel.

The long visa wait time has been considered as a primary reason to discourage tourists to the country.

"Our wait times are completely unacceptable, and they are discouraging travelers from coming here," Freeman said.

He added that the government has acknowledged the problem and improvements have been made with applicants from India and Brazil.

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