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04/12/2006 Archived Entry: "Tourists shun US"

THE US MARKET SHARE OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS IS DOWN 35% since 1993, claims the Travel Industry Association of America.

I'm not sure how this figure, quoted in Fewer international tourists coming to US in today's Financial Times, was determined. Visiting the TIA website and searching for "market share" reveals a table showing declines in tourists from most countries, but not -35%.

If the TIA figures are correct, the loss of tourists represents some eye-popping losses; they claim $286 Billion in lost revenue.

What's interesting about the FT article is the statement by Master "King of Denial" Chertoff, who famously dissembled when confronted with NPR eyewitness reports that thousands of Katrina refugees were stranded in horrifying conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center. Speaking of tourists avoiding the US, the King claimed that "We are using technology to reduce delays to legitimate travelers while raising the bar to keep out those who are not."

Speaking from my experience with far too many international journeys before and since 9/11, I can state unequivocally that delays to legitimate travelers (I consider myself legitimate) have increased dramatically. Entering the US is a dreadful experience even for US citizens, and I am frankly ashamed at the "welcome" given to visitors. As for the technology, fingerprinting and mug-shooting every non-citizen who dares to cross our borders is certain to make tourists feel unwelcome. The parallels to the treatment afforded suspected criminals escapes no one except those who design these nonsensical programs.

So tourists are shunning the US, in numbers large enough make even professional looters and spendthrifts like Congress notice. Good for them. The free market will deal with the systematic mistreatment of international travelers at the hands of American authorities. The only problem is, we are all poorer as a result.

Posted by Silver @ 01:52 PM CST

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