Policy Issues

Roundtable, Industry Coalition Submit Comments Urging the State Department to Withdraw an "enhanced vetting" Proposal for Visitors Traveling to the U.S.

May 29, 2018

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A multi-industry travel and tourism coalition that includes The Real Estate Roundtable submitted formal comments on May 29 urging the State Department to withdraw an "enhanced vetting" proposal for visitors traveling to the U.S. – a dramatic expansion of information collection that could further reduce the downward trend of in-bound tourism and its significant economic benefits.  The Roundtable is also part of the  VisitUS Coalition, which expressed concerns about the proposal in April. 

The business coalition concerns submitted this week addressed: 
 
  • The "highly competitive" global market to capture foreign travelers "is sensitive to new and evolving security protocols."  The comments also address the department's proposal to require all visitors seeking a U.S. visa – about 15 million applicants each year – to provide extensive information on social media use, history of international travel, and other matters. 
  • "New requirements that make it more challenging to obtain U.S. visas can affect the willingness and interest of international travelers to visit the United States rather than other countries," the coalition wrote. 
  • Noting that the U.S. has attracted 7.4 million fewer overseas travelers in 2016-2017 – with corollary declines in visitor spending at American hotels, resorts, stores and attraction properties – the coalition urged the State Department to re-think its "enhanced vetting" proposal.  
  • The comments also explained that the dip in the U.S. share of the global travel market hinders the Trump Administration's foreign trade goals.  "Money spent here by foreign travelers counts as an export for the United States; indeed, international travel is our country's largest export of services accounting for $245 billion in total travel exports, and the second largest of any economic sector," the coalition wrote.