What Does The U.S. Have Against Brazilian Tourists?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Let’s face it, the U.S. economy is limping along at best, and the last thing it should be doing is making it difficult for people outside of the country to come and spend money here. Take Brazil for example, a nation which spent a whopping $5.9 billion in the U.S. last year. Not that the U.S. made it easy to do so, as Time pointed out in a recent exposé that detailed the difficult process Brazilians, and Latin Americans in general, have in making their way to America.

Instead of rolling out the red carpet for the travelers from the increasingly wealthy South American nations, the U.S. makes Brazilians — and every other Latin American nationality — undergo a lengthy and expensive visa-application process that takes months of planning and can cost thousands of dollars in travel, lodging, food and other expenses — all before leaving the country.

The article notes how there are only four consular offices there — one in Brasilia, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo — this, a country of 190 million people and basically the size of the U.S. Wait times for visa interviews, which is about 30 days around the world, can take up to 141 days, and São Paulo alone processes 2,300 visas a day, making it the busiest consulate office in the world.

Perhaps the solution is to allow Brazil into the U.S. visa waiver list, something it allows for numerous other countries. But it turns out Brazil is not on that list, in fact, no Latin American country is.

There are currently 36 countries on Washington’s visa waiver list, but none of them are in Latin America. Some argue it’s hampering the U.S.’ economic growth and global competitiveness. For example, Chilean tourism to the United States is down more than 30% from 10 years ago, while globally the number of Chileans traveling overseas to other countries is up 50%.

And if you think this issue doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong. Chances are you or someone you know is looking for a job, and the article notes how allowing Brazil and Chile alone into the waiver list would, by some estimates, create 1.3 million new jobs and bring in $858 billion into the U.S. economy by 2020. I think the time’s ripe for a consulate construction boom.

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