By the Numbers: What Speedier Visas Mean for Retail


Mall of America international tourism information

Minnesota’s Mall of America has begun adding staff and information in Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish.

Last week came the news that, surprise, brands wholeheartedly support President Obama’s push for less stringent tourist visas, issued faster, for visitors from Brazil, India, and China.  As the middle classes of those countries grow, and American retailers miss out on tourism revenue to easier-accessed destinations like Paris, it’s become clear that bringing in foreign shoppers would be invaluable to the U.S. economy.  Now, Bloomberg reports some potential numbers:

  • According to a report from the National Retail Federation, the results of Obama’s executive order could add $850 billion to the economy (by 2020) and 1.3 million jobs.
  • The demand for visas is already there — requests for tourist visas from China increased by 34% in 2011 over 2010, and went up by 42% from Brazil.
  • The Mall of America, which is visited by around 3 million tourists every year, said the average receipt from a foreign visitor was two-and-a-half times higher than their American counterpart’s.

So, beyond just bringing in extra consumers, issuing visas faster and more often would also attract shoppers who spend more.  Let’s get those visas processed, shall we?