Business Travel to U.S. Down 10 Percent
In the February 26, 2007, issue of Newsweek magazine, Fareed Zakaria noted that total international arrivals to the U.S. declined 10 percent between 2000 and 2004, and that business travel to the U.S. has declined by 10 percent in the last two years while other major capitals (London, Singapore, Dubai) are experiencing increases. Further, Mr. Zakaria said, although the U.S. increased foreign student enrollment by 17 percent between 1999 and 2005, during the same period, enrollments have grown by 28 percent in Britain, 42 percent in Australia, 46 percent in Germany, and 81 percent in France. The article blames the depression of the U.S. travel market relative to other nations primarily on post-9/11 visa hassles, noting that Discover America polled 2,000 randomly selected international travelers this winter and asked them which location is the worst for visa problems and difficulties with immigration officials; the U.S. topped the list.
The Saudi chapter of the Young Arab Leaders passed up a business forum held in New York last year, the Newsweek article reports, because they “refused to go through what has become an extremely demeaning process for visa applications,” a conference organizer said. Attendees at the conference, the pro-business Arab and American Action Forum, were pulled out of line at John F. Kennedy International Airport and made to stand for two to five hours, the article states, while security officials questioned them about whether they had used weapons and what they thought of the war in Iraq. “We seem to have lost the ability to think rationally about security,” said homeland security expert Stephen Flynn.