US Takes Steps to Improve Visa Processing for Indians, But Tourist Traffic Remains Low

Tourism rebounds strongly in major markets like Spain and France, but the US lags behind. The country faces multiple challenges, including visa processing delays, high hotel rates, and lengthy customs procedures. Political factors, such as safety concerns and controversial legislation, also impact decisions by both domestic and international travellers.

Visa Processing Delays: The State Department’s visa processing delays, with wait times exceeding 400 days, discourage potential travellers. Despite some improvements for applicants from India and Brazil, the issue remains a significant obstacle to attracting international visitors.

High Hotel Rates and Inflation: The US travel industry struggles with high hotel rates since the resumption of travel, deterring international tourists who are concerned about overall travel costs and a strong dollar. In May 2023, hotel demand dipped by 2%, impacting visitor numbers.

Political Impact: Politics play a role in deterring both domestic and international travellers. Reports indicate growing safety concerns due to higher crime rates, homelessness, and mass shootings. Controversial legislation, including anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion laws, has resulted in event cancellations, affecting the economy.

Impact on Business Travel: Business travel is also affected, with trade show attendance down by 20%, especially from top markets like Japan and China, where visits to the US remain at a fraction of 2019 levels.

Domestic Tourism: Domestic tourism remains a bright spot, showing a 3% increase in leisure trips for Americans in the first half of 2023. However, the larger reckoning due to political and bureaucratic issues affects decisions for both domestic and international travellers.

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