Commentators believe that Chicago lost the Olympics big because of American visa and airport security issues.
06 October 2009
Failed Chicago bid blamed on US visa and immigration issues
A review of the failed Chicago 2016 Olympics bid by the New York Times has asked the question if the city lost the bid because of US visa and airport security issues.
Michelle Higgins of the New York Times wrote recently that among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue the welcome foreigners would get from American airport officials when they arrived in the country to attend the Games.
In the question-and-answer session following the official Chicago presentation an I.O.C member from Pakistan, Syed Shahid Ali, said that entering the US can be “a rather harrowing experience.”
President Obama's reassurance that all visitors would be made to feel welcome may have not been enough to assuage critics and a few hours later the Games went to Rio de Janeiro.
Higgins wrote that the question highlighted what US tourism officials have been saying for years about the sometimes rigorous entry process for foreigners into America.
Soon after Chicago lost its Olympic bid the US Travel Association sent out a critical press release within hours pointing out that criticism.
International travel to America declined by 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 according to the US Department of Commerce.
The Travel Promotion Act, which recently passed in the US Senate and is awaiting action in the House, will charge a nominal US$10 fee for the ESTA visa and create funding to promote American visa and policy education and the United States as a tourism destination.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.