American retailers are enthusiastic about the prospect of new tourists.
01 February 2012
US economy eagerly awaits boost from American visa relaxations
President Barack Obama's recent announcements to ease the requirements for Chinese and Brazilian tourists to apply for an American visa have been received warmly by American retailers.
On 19 January, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order giving US immigration authorities 60 days to formulate a new process for Brazilian and Chinese tourists to apply for an American visa in a matter of weeks, instead of the current process which can take months.
The announcement comes to meet an upsurge in applications from the two countries: American visa applications in 2011 from China have risen by 34% while applications from Brazil have risen 42%.
American retailers have expressed their gratitude to the announcement with Michael Gould, CEO of iconic department store Bloomingdale's saying "the faster they can get here the better".
Tourism to the US has fallen between 2000 and 2010, with retailers had expressed their frustration at the numbers of foreign tourists flocking to cities like Paris and Rome whose visa application times are as little as 10 days but it is hope the recent announcement will begin to combat this.
"Currently the process is very difficult for citizens from countries such as China, Brazil and India to obtain tourist visas" said Stephen Sadove, CEO at Saks Inc. "Additional tourists in the US would lead to increased revenues in retailing and hospitality."
Easing the visa restrictions is expected to yield a massive $850 billion (£540 billion) and over a million jobs for the US by 2020.
However, the Federation for American Immigration Reform said the president's order encourages "terrorism and visa overstays".
Retailers are unconcerned with these warnings and are instead preparing product ranges which specifically cater to Brazilian and Chinese tourists with the Mall of America even employing staff who are fluent in Mandarin, Japanese and Spanish to assist the new wave of shoppers desperate for famous American brands.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.