Obama woos high-spending Indian, Chinese tourists

Monday, 23 January 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

WASHINGTON: Now its US President Barack Obama himself who is wooing high-spending Indian and Chinese tourists and has issued an executive order to make it easier for travellers from emerging economies to get visas.

For nearly one-third of Indian tourists, whose average age is 43 and average stay in America six weeks, the US was their first foreign travel.

Aimed at boosting foreign tourism, the order came two days after he identified India, China, and Brazil among countries that could boost tourist traffic to America as he unveiled a strategy to ensure US remains the world’s top global travel destination.

“Let’s realise that in the years ahead, more and more tourists are going to come from countries, with rapidly growing economies, huge populations and emerging middle classes; countries like China, India and Brazil,” Obama said as he unveiled the strategy Thursday using the backdrop of Florida’s famed Disneyland.

Noting that applications for visas are skyrocketing, Obama directed agencies throughout the US government to design a programme to make it easier for tourists to visit the United States.  The travel and tourism industry generated 7.5 million jobs and 2.7 per cent of US GDP in 2010, but post 9/11, US share of international traveller spending has fallen from 17 percent to 11 percent due to security concerns and increased competition.

Visitors from India, China and Brazil contributed approximately $15 billion to the US economy in 2010, with India sending a modest 651,000 visitors, a 140 percent increase from 2003, when the US received only 272,000 Indian visitors.  Still the US anticipates a 50 percent increase in the number of travellers from India by 2016, according to the International Trade Administration (ITA) section of the US department of commerce.  Indian tourists visiting America in 2010 spent an average of $4,390 each, toting up $2.86 billion for 651,000 visitors. Visitors from China and Brazil, projected to grow much more than tourists from India (by 135 percent and 274 percent, respectively), splurged $5000 and $6000 respectively per visit.