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Obama Wants Foreign Tourists to Feel More Welcome

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1. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 4y

Read about it here at Budgettravel

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 4y

So money is spend to bring this guy to Disney where he basically says that a few more countries (with extremely annoying package/group tourists) will be added (maybe) to the Visa Waiver Program, which basically means you still have to pay 10-15 bucks to sign in on the ESTA website so you can enter the country in the first place? What a waste.
And to answer the question in the article: yes, the USA (in many places) is full as it is and although I think anyone is legal to visit whatever place he/she wants, some attention to actually maintaining a healthy tourism industry is a much better idea.

3. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 4y

As it currently stands, the USA is a very unwelcoming destination for foreigners in my opinion (and not much better for those of us domestic travelers either!) Mr. Obama did not design the current situation, it cannot be fixed in one simple pass, but any change would be appreciated by all. There is certainly discrimination here, and that needs to be addressed immediately. Obama is doing his best in a very uncooperative political environment - things can only get better, and changes will be slow in coming since we have a totally gridlocked Congress in Washington DC.

(why any foreigner would want to vacation here is the big mystery to me???)

4. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1827 posts) 4y

I used to like going to America and went there many times but now can't stand the place. The people haven't changed. It's the country itself and it's attitude. It is unwelcoming, and sometimes downright arrogant.

5. Posted by Rainer Dynszis (Budding Member 15 posts) 4y

Quoting Daawgon

(why any foreigner would want to vacation here is the big mystery to me???)

I'm not sure you want an answer to this, but: We (in the old world) have been taught the USA are the Promised Land. "Das Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten" (i.e. the land of unlimited opportunities) is actually an expression universally understood to refer to the USA here in Germany. We know America from the movies, so we know that the American people are beautiful, rich and friendly. Plus, at some point Europe seems to run out of destinations you haven't seen already, trips to Australia necessitate a gruelling flight, Africa is either a Disney version sanitized for tourists, or something you don't really want to see, and Asia, well, that might be a contender, although the language barrier is also a consideration.

But as to your comment: Ouch . Is it really that bad?

My wife and I were toying with the idea of driving from coast to coast (SF to NYC) with a rented car this June, but I'm having second thoughts when I read comments like yours...

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4834 posts) 4y

Rainer: There still are a lot of good things in the USA. Its National Parks are as beautiful as ever, its cities as vibrant as ever. I have many dear friends living in the USA, and they are still the same decent, welcoming people they ever were.
But against these things there's American media, American entertainment (pushing horrible laws both nationally and internationally, like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA), American politics, and basically American isolationism. The illusion of being able to show up, work hard, and make a fortune hasn't really been true for many decades, but nowadays it's less true than ever: They don't want us there, and they make this abundantly clear. American immigration is the unfriendliest I've encountered anywhere in the world - they seem to operate under the belief that anyone entering the country will be either a disguised Mexican intending to "steal their job", or just an outright "terrorist". Certain groups have latched onto the fear which "9/11" generated, and have flogged it for all its worth, removing liberties, limiting possibilities. (Contrast that with the Norwegian reaction to Breivich, which was basically "we will become more free".) Where eleven years ago, as a European you used to be able to just show up, fill in a short form, and be welcome (same as you still can for Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, etc), now you have to file a complete travel plan before you even step on an airplane, will be fingerprinted and photographed when arriving, and have to bear rude people asking you detailed questions about how you support yourself and what exactly you intend to do in the USA (not all of the immigration people are quite like that, but too many are).

I have stopped going to the USA completely myself. It's just not worth it anymore. Consider Canada or South America instead.

7. Posted by beerman (Respected Member 1631 posts) 4y

I think it's a bit much to be painting America as being unfriendly and arrogant with such a broad brush. There are 300,000,000 people here. Are we all rude and unwelcoming?

A few bad experiences don't make a country bad. Please reconsider such broad statements. And try not to judge the United States based on television, we're not all superficial humans living on tooth whiteners and breast implants.

Thank you.

8. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 4y

Well, I do find Americans to be beautiful, rich, and friendly--as long as you are at a nightclub in Las Vegas or Beverly Hills. However, if you are in the mob of American tourists at Walt Disney World in the middle of the summer high-tourist season, you are more likely to find overweight, pushy, lower middle-class groups with their whiny kids in tow.

Having said that, I agree that painting an entire country with a bad reputation is very unfair when most Americans are, just trying to get by, and are helpful to those who need it. Americans contribute more to charitable causes than any other people on earth--and that applies to giving both their money, and giving with their time.

The biggest problem in this country, in my view, is that every political or social group thinks they know what is best--and then want to impose their views on every other group in the country. Our media outlets are designed so that you can get any view on any subject--but what has happened over time is that the media has become a means for people to initiate "cognitive dissonance" in their viewing and reading choices. That is, if you are right-wing, then you can spend all your time watching FOX News knowing they will support your right-wing views. If you are left-wing, there is MSNBC and the Wall Street Journal to help you support your views. If you believe in the Occupy movement, there are outlets that support that--and if you oppose it, there are outlets for that.

If people were to watch various programs and get views on both sides, that would lead to an understanding of both sides' opinions, but what happens instead is that people, naturally, watch what supports the beliefs they already have. And the worst thing is that, the more radical the views, the greater has been the proliferation of new programs (and speakers) capitalizing on these. As a result, we have a large difference in ideologies that has resulted in two welfare systems--one for the poor and one for the rich. And the middle-class is getting squeezed everyday--and blaming one of the two other groups--the poor (foreign immigrants or blacks or Arab "terrorists")--or else the rich (bankers, Wall Street investors, upper management at large corporations, small business owners) for all the problems. These views are compounded by the terrible economy, which has kept millions of students with college degrees from being able to get any jobs (over 6 million aged 22 to 25 with college degrees are now unemployed)--and unemployment here in California is still over 11%--and has been at this high level or even higher for over 4 years (to give you an idea of how times have changed for the worse, unemployment was around 4-5% back in 1999).

A person from overseas visiting the US needs to understand that it is this background of underlying political attitudes and economic problems that is of concern to most Americans nowadays. We just get bombarded with this stuff on 400 TV channels, 1000 radio outlets, and millions of internet outlets all day long. Thus, while in the 1950s to 1970s, most Americans were just interested in enjoying their relative affluence and enjoying life day-to day, nowadays it is difficult for most Americans to ignore the constant bombardment of media on these subjects and be as welcoming as they really should be.

Also, life is just different. It used to be that if someone approached you on the street, they wanted to get to know you or discuss the latest sporting event or the weather or where a good restaurant might be or ask for directions. Now if someone approaches you on the street, they are likely to be a political or religious nut, someone begging for money, or someone wanting to sell you something. Sad, but true--and it is why Americans may seem a bit less friendly in 2012.

9. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 4y

While I agree with Calcruzer, I think we need to apologize to recent foreign visitors and those we have turned away. After all, the US is not the only place on Earth with BIG PROBLEMS. I think we are still stuck with the "9/11" mentality, and probably will be in that state of mind for some time to come.

10. Posted by Rainer Dynszis (Budding Member 15 posts) 4y

All: Thank you very much for your time and your interesting comments and contributions.

At this point I have nothing worthwhile to comment myself, so I'll just leave it at that :)