Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of Walt Disney Co., told WWD “it is estimated that for every 65 people that visit the United States, one job is created,” and thus retailers across the board are incredibly supportive of President Obama’s recent move to both speed up the tourist visa process and ease some of the rules associated with it.
A more streamlined process is particularly relevant to countries like Brazil and China, both of which have rapidly growing middle classes. Obama has charged the State Department with increasing visa processing capacity for visitors from those countries by 40% this year. In New York City alone, according to statistics from NYC & Co., 589,000 Brazilian tourists spent $1.6 billion in 2010. And yet obtaining a visa to visit the U.S. from Brazil can take weeks — no wonder retailers support the updated rules.
For instance, Liz Claiborne Inc. (becoming Fifth & Pacific in May 2012) CEO Bill McComb previously editorialized the importance of the tourism industry to the U.S. economy in the Huffington Post. Beyond pointing out that it was imperative the government facilitate the visa process for Chinese, Brazilian, and Indian visitors, McComb also wrote that a more extensive, varied “Visit America” campaign would have the power to do wonders for the industry. And even more significantly, the tools to develop such a campaign are at the country’s disposal.
McComb’s recommendation to grow tourism in this way dovetails well with Obama’s other initiative, the creation of a task force to create a national travel and tourism strategy. After all, once it becomes easier for certain tourists to come here, shouldn’t their visits (and subsequent activities, like shopping) be as facilitated as possible? Once the new rules are in place, we’ll be interested to see the positive impact they have on popular American brands’ numbers.
Disclosure: Bill McComb is the CEO of Liz Claiborne Inc., the sponsor of this site.