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Startling Survey Results Reveal Entry Process Deters Millions of Overseas Travelers to the U.S.

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March 21, 2013

Startling Survey Results Reveal Entry Process Deters Millions of Overseas Travelers to the U.S.

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013– Overseas travelers are avoiding the United States due to “embarrassingly” lengthy and inefficient Customs and entry procedures at the nation’s gateway airports according to a new survey released today by Consensus Research and the U.S. Travel Association. By experience and word-of-mouth, at least 100 million overseas travelers are receiving the message to avoid travel to the United States ? costing the economy at least $95 billion in total output and 518,900 jobs across the economy.

[quote]”Too many visitors to our country ? one in three ? report that they have experienced a Customs process that they believe is inconsistent, confusing or embarrassing,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “As the United States spends millions to recapture the world’s interest and inspire international travelers to visit, we are failing to address a galling entry experience that is driving 43 percent of our guests to tell others to avoid travel to our country.”[/quote]

Prior to sequestration budget cuts, prominent gateway airports reported two-to-three hour waits to clear Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated publicly that those waits are likely to grow as CBP eliminates overtime and furloughs agents. The survey, conducted by Consensus Research Group, of overseas travelers who have visited or considered visiting the United States in the last five years found that:

  • Forty-three percent of travelers who have visited say they will recommend to others to avoid a trip to the United States because of the entry process.
  • Visitors to the United States report that they tell on average eight others about their travel experiences ? good or bad ? creating a multiplying effect to the potential impact of their experiences.
  • One in three travelers thought that the United States is “falling behind other countries” or was even the “worst” they have ever seen in their Customs process.
  • Forty-four percent of business travelers say that they will not visit in the next five years because of the entry process.
  • Two-thirds of travelers said the United States would be a more attractive destination if Customs lines and wait times were shorter.
  • Eighty-four percent believe the United States government could fix the process.
  • One in seven international travelers report that they have missed a connection because of delays at Customs, causing them to cancel hotel reservations, car rentals and other activities.

Two in three travelers surveyed said that eliminating long lines and wait times was their top priority for making the United States a more attractive travel destination. An investment in 1,000 additional CBP officers ? at a cost of approximately $150 million ? could help to meet a 30 minute standard for processing guests and realize tens of billions in new traveler spending.

[quote]”CBP officers are hardworking public servants who deserve the resources necessary to process millions of overseas travelers,” said Dow. “We are calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to immediately provide the resources necessary to efficiently process our nation’s guests.”[/quote]

Consensus Research Group conducted the multi-country online survey among a total sample of 1,200 overseas travelers. Respondents in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, China and Brazil were qualified on the basis of having traveled outside their countries during the past five years. Two hundred interviews were completed in each country, with samples weighted proportionate to each country’s volume of visitors to the United States during the period January through October of 2012.

The U.S. Travel Association?is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $1.9 trillion in economic output and supports 14.4 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.

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