US Response To Massive Decline In Foreign Travelers: Keep Crazy Policies, But Set Up Ad Campaign

from the uh,-yeah dept

Sometimes it feels like the US government likes to take incompetence to new levels. It should come as little surprise that foreign tourism to the US is way down. Basically ever since the Patriot Act, visiting the US has become a huge pain for foreign tourists, and with our lovely new “we see you naked or we touch your private parts” strategy for airline passengers (thank you, TSA), it appears that things are getting even worse. So, if you’re the US government, how do you respond? Do you start thinking about modifying such policies to make visiting the US less unwelcoming? Do you start thinking about more effective, but less insulting security procedures? Do you start looking at why those foreign tourists are staying away in droves? The answer appears to be no, no and no.

Instead, you set up a “public/private partnership” to launch an expensive ad campaign and you fund part of it by charging those very tourists to enter the country.

Yes, the US government and the travel industry have teamed up to launch the new “Corporation for Travel Promotion,” (CTP) which will seek to run a huge advertising campaign to foreigners, trying to convince them that once you get past the unfriendly gropers at our borders, the US really is quite nice. The US Travel Association, which is a part of this effort, does say that it would be a good idea to use the CTP to convince the government (which, um, we thought was a part of the CTP) to create a “more efficient and friendly entrance procedure,” but notes that work will be “challenging.” So, for now, it sounds like the main focus will be on advertising how cool the Golden Gate Bridge looks, if you can actually get into the country.

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Comments on “US Response To Massive Decline In Foreign Travelers: Keep Crazy Policies, But Set Up Ad Campaign”

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68 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Ugh...

“So, for now, it sounds like the main focus will be on advertising how cool the Golden Gate Bridge looks, if you can actually get into the country.”

When I was in the Bay area, the Golden Gate Bridge was only significant because it got me out of San Fran and on my way to Napa Valley….

On topic, at what point does the cash starved government begin to worry about the lack of tourist dollars coming in? Do they possess the cognitive capacity to understand the correlation? Does anyone else remember that the Nazi hosted olympics prior to WWII resulted in applause around the world for how wonderful and happy Germany was at the time, if only it weren’t for a few worrisome policies?

(Sorry for going Godwin in the first post….)

someone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“They don’t grope you or force you through pornoscanners in North Korea.
They do inspect your digital camera and erase all the photos they don’t like on your way out. How long till the TSA adopts that strategy?”

They already have adopted the strategy of searching your electronics:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090927/2208126331.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080917/1048522292.shtml

No worry about them deleting your pictures, they will gladly keep them:
http://politics.usnews.com/news/national/articles/2008/06/24/seizing-laptops-and-cameras-without-cause.html
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10004646-38.html

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same here. At this point, my wife and kids have no problems with a 1500 mile road trip and I love to drive. Yeah it takes a little longer to get there and we spend a little less time at our destination, but we certainly see a lot more and have a lot of fun getting there. Heck, I’m not even sure we’d go back to flying even if all the nonsense stopped tomorrow.

someone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Instead they keep ratcheting up the crazy.”

Our leaders are not crazy, they just “never let a good crisis go to waste.”

I think South Park got it right, “the terrorists have invaded….our imagination.”

People have been trained that everyone is equal, everyone gets a trophy for trying!
People have been trained that guns are bad and dangerous, so they do not own them and are afraid of those who do.
Then they start worrying about terrorists and what do do about them, they are certainly not equal cause they kill people!

What you end up with is a large group of pansy, participation trophy owning, afraid of guns, ignorant Americans running right into the arms of the tyrannical leaders promising to protect them.

These people are easy to spot, they are the ones on the news saying things like “If getting patted down keeps the terrorists off the plan I’m all for it!”
When the Orifice Bomber takes down a plane those same people will be saying “If bending over keeps terrorists off the plan, I’m all for it!”

Shirley says:

Half full

They should focus on the positives of their current policies. Some foreigners may like the unique American cultural experience of being felt up upon entrance to the US. The CTP should clearly focus on advertising to lonely foreign singles, Afghani child molesters (DynCorp employees?), or perhaps cleavage-bearing 32 year olds on international dating sites. Or perhaps show a TSA video with 32 year old security screeners bearing cleavage, because it seems that will peak 79% more interest. Oh and that long “interview” you may receive upon entering the US from a Muslim country, why, that’s just US getting to know YOU! I think the CTP could surely make an impact with the right advertising strategy.

Michael says:

Re: I'm curious . . .

Canadian here: some will travel regardless, especially the “snowbirds” (older folk who go to florida etc.. in the winter from Canada) but many are seriously put off. I vacation in Cuba, so I can’t take a flight that stops in the US anyways… but its not just flying, driving over the border is pretty ridiculous as well, and people just don’t want the hassle.

BruceLD says:

Subject

I think the US DHS/TSA should just go ahead and enforce body cavity searches of all passengers for everyone including men and women, children, babies and the elderly of all races regardless of their nationality.

In addition, they should also train every dog to insert their snouts in to said bodily orifices, and they should also be allowed to insert bomb “puffers” inside said body orifices as well. Every single passenger ranging from new borns all the way to the very old should be exposed to these new security measures because we know that everyone wants to blow up Americans.

OH, and make sure these searches are conducted by unskilled persons with criminal records.

I really think this will attract visitors to the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

TSA - Tourist's Suck Ass

Of course, this is how we create a “safer” America. The less people that travel the less security risk we have.

So the more money we pour into TSA the more draconian their security gets. The worse security gets the less people want to travel. In a lot of ways this is the only real way TSA could ever protect us. Simpy slash the number of travelers down to 0 and then everyone is finally safe in the air.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Has anyone actually done a study on this???

I read about studies that have been done about “piracy” in this column all the time, but has anyone here seen any studies done on the amount of terrorist activity in the world ( or in the US) pre 9/11 vs post 9/11.

Terrorism is a lovely word being overused to erode citizen’s rights, but has there actually been any measurable effect other than the US government’s “It’s working” rhetoric?

porkster says:

I travel a lot, way to much. I actively avoid travel through the USA.

Reasons
1. It has taken me almost 2 1/2 hours in Orlando to go from check-in to gate for a domestic flight.

2. LAX terminals suck. Nothing really there, no shopping, very little to eat other than junk food. To go to some airline lounges you have to pass through Security (not worth the hassle most of the time). Had an airline lounge that had a 3 drink max – not good for a 4 hour stopover.

3. US airlines treat there customers like s*^t. Pay for this, pay for that, sit with your knees up round your ears
.
4. TSA touching your junk – seriously, why would I go to the US to be humiliated. – I’ve read all the reports. It scares me.

5. Congress says that you can only be kept in an aircraft on the ground for three hours…. THREE HOURS…. I balk at 15 minutes. Three flaming hours…

6. Fear of losing my laptop entering the US.

7. Fear of ending up on the “no fly list” and not being able to get home.

You have so many sights to see… and yet I don’t want to go through the hassle of getting there…

Ha? says:

Based on this column, the decline in the travel to the US has nothing to do with global economic depression. Neither does it attempt to explain similar declines experienced in France, Spain, UK and most other countries on the list of top 10 travel destinations. How does the Patriot Act fit into that?

Oh, I forgot, it’s much cooler to be “pro-civil-liberties” than “pro-not-being-blown-up-on-a-plane”.

Ha? says:

Based on this column, the decline in the travel to the US has nothing to do with global economic depression. Neither does it attempt to explain similar declines experienced in France, Spain, UK and most other countries on the list of top 10 travel destinations. How does the Patriot Act fit into that?

Oh, I forgot, it’s much cooler to be “pro-civil-liberties” than “pro-not-being-blown-up-on-a-plane”.

william (profile) says:

I don’t think any kind of campaign is going to make people interested in going to use to get groped and naked scanned.

I haven’t fly to US in over 6 years and there will be no convincing me to fly to US to visit until TSA is gone. I’ve thought about going to Las Vega for holiday a few times in the 6 years, but they are quickly crushed by the thought of TSA.

SJ says:

I used to like going to the US but I doubt I’ll go there any time soon again. The last time I went to Canada through JFK – despite being in transit and not actually entering the US my thumb prints and picture were taken, I had to answer questions to immigrations etc…. and hell, I didn’t want to enter the US that time.

It’s been going downhill only since then from what I read. I have no doubts that the numbers of people entering the US goes down as everyone is regarded as potential criminal and on top of that – only because I’m from Europe – I even get discriminated against other foreigns entering the US by that fee. It’s not a big fee but it’s a matter of principle.

I rather move freely around Europe and Asia than going to the US. The next time I’ll go to Canada I’ll take a direct flight.

Overcast (profile) says:

Oh, I forgot, it’s much cooler to be “pro-civil-liberties” than “pro-not-being-blown-up-on-a-plane”.

I’ll take my freedom any day over supposed ‘government protection’.

Eventually, at the rate we are going, soon you’ll need protection from the Government – who will do that?

Makes you wonder how this country got past 200+ years without government searching, groping, and tasering us all…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is only small chance that you will be kidnapped in Mexico. However, it is guaranteed that you will be treated as a criminal in the US. It is certain that you will have your rights violated, your junk fondled and interrogated.

I’ll take my chance with Mexican drug cartels as they seem much more civilised than the US government.

johnny canada says:

I am sitting here at work less than 15 miles from the U.S. boarder, just down the street and around the corner to be exact. (I could go there for lunch it is that close)

Last time I was in the U.S. was before 9/11.

I got fed up of the Walmart Greeters (U.S. Customs and Immigration) searching my car every time I crossed. And the general bad attitude of them.

The last time I went was when a friend from Hong Kong was visiting and we went to Seattle. After crossing the boarder he stated to me ‘The boarder guards in Mainland China are friendlier,

Anonymous Coward says:

we should change the name from land of the free, to land of the porn, therefore, our TSA policy will only add to this paradigm.

It could go like this:

“like porn? The USA loves porn, so much so that on entrance to our country, you get a free naked picture that can be handed out to all the TSA buddy’s, see, your already a porn star. But wait, that’s not enough you say? and we here at USA do agree, that’s why, lucky random family’s will get our deluxe deal, a free erotic pat down; even grandma can bring back that special feeling, so dont waste your time going to France, they only pretend to be erotic; we start the erotica as soon as you leave the airplane.”

Fentex says:

I have long had a plan to buy a car and drive around the Americas for a few months.

I will not do so while the U.S remains as unwelcoming as it is. A decsion I made long before these obnoxious scanners and fondling began (I could avoid them by driving through border crossings I think).

It’s the finger-printing, retina scanning that put me off. I’ve visited military juntas that are less obnoxious and prying of individual affairs.

bruce says:

Holiday and Work

I work with an US Company with offices in Europe, so I travelled often to US for my work.
I am Italian, from the south, I have light dark skin and long beard (as any Italian geek, I respect traditions), I am a likely candidate (more often than not) for further screening at any airport after 9/11.
I am of the (maybe few, according to some comments above) lucky ones that can decide to get an holiday out of Europe.
I wrote ‘maybe few’ but all the people I know is having their holiday out of Europe, and we are just simple employees. Crisis does not enter into equation, I dare to say.
I am now sitting on a beach in Mexico, I am waiting for a flight to Cuba and during all my trip I felt myself welcome everywhere.
Conclusion: travelling for work in US, I have to; for holiday, I need to find a very good reason.

Multiply the same reasoning for all the Europeans/Asians/Australians/South-Americans having holidays “abroad” and you get your drop in tourism in U.S.

No campaign can help this.

randal says:

Tuorism way down

The absence of logic by the government is astounding. They did not seem to have a clue that getting radiated and groped at the airport would make people choose to vacation elsewhere(costing the nation a lot in tourism revenue).It reminds me of how they failed to see that passing laws that HELPED outsource 42,000 manufacturing facilities with millions of jobs…would result in lower taxes collected from the income of the people who lost those jobs, nor the effect of their unemployment on the economy. So, on one hand, they spend money like a crack addict….whilst sabotaging their income sources.

Riquin (profile) says:

The Airline / Turist business has a broken model

If you are an Airline/Turism executive read this:

The airline business has a broken model where they let a fascist government take over part of their operations (security) now they will pay the consequences. Take our family as reference; we are not going to accept radiation and nude picture taking of our members nor sick PAD-DOWNS. The current procedures targets disable persons for sexual harassment my wife has a titanium hip. So the whole family is not flying any more. Members of the family are now buying motor homes, new cars, etc. We are re-adjusting our recreation activities. Even if they fix this mess in the future, the monies for flying are not there anymore the money went into buying new cars (we just bought new car yesterday cash) and motor homes.
If you own airline stock sell them as soon as you can, there is no future in a business like that.

The airlines knew that the TSA was going to implement those machines and start humiliating your customers and you did nothing about it. Where your lobbyists in Washington are, fire them all, you needed someone at the helm of the TSA that understands the airline business. But you accepted the current administration of the TSA and you are now going to suffer the consequences.

Read this, not only you are humiliating your customers you may be killing them:

Scientists with the University of California at San Francisco were so worried that they wrote a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April, 2010 raising “a number of red flags” on the scanners’ safety.

http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf

Full body scan machines = tumor-trons

And by the way: Bean me up Scotty ?..there are no intelligent life forms in this planet.

marco says:

never again

I am from germany, a frequent traveller as I have at least 6 weeks of vacation a year plus the money to do so. I have been to the US a number of times and I love your country and your people. But never will I let myself get groped or radiated. Or arrested without due process. Or detained without the right to see a lawyer. Or….. my next trip is to columbia where it is much safer.Many people here think that way and wonder how come you americans let this happen to yourselves. In germany we used to ask our grandparents why did you let this happen back in the third reich? So will your kids ask you one day. where is your spirit? where are your cojones? why have you all turned into pussies. You let yourself be governed by a warmongering liar who doesn?t give a shit about you (oilspill). Get the fuck up of your asses and fight back while you still have a chance. I root for you!

Steve N (user link) says:

It's the TSA's fault

TSA groping kids, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov?t violations of our right:
They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like ?America Deceived II? and censoring the internet.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
(Last link of Banned Book):
http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

CN says:

Canadian not spending money in USA any more.

I have vacationed in the USA six times in five years. But I’ve already decided to look elsewhere for this winter.

I just flew between Canadian provinces last night, and got selected for the nudie scanner. I opted for pat down. I would describe it as an effective pat down, no groping. “Only in Canada you say? Pity.”

Marco says:

That's why ...

I avoid going on vacations to destiny’s where i am treated like a criminal. USA is letting paranoia going all over their heads, letting be manipulated by stupid politicians and their corporatist interests (where being a lobbyist is a actual job and not corruption like everywhere else).

Traveling by plane these days is like being a criminal in airports. So much paranoia. I agree with security but not paranoid person rights invasion.

John85851 (profile) says:

The airlines

An earlier post had an excellent point: why are the airlines allowing such draconian measures? If people aren’t travelling (or flying), then this has a direct impact on airlines. Yet none of them are speaking out against the ever-increasing security measures.

How many people in this thread have said they won’t fly because of TSA? And how many other people won’t fly in general? Yet the government *and the airlines* continue to ratchet up the “security” measures.
So, at what point does someone get wise to all of this and say TSA is the reason that airline revenues and tourism are down? Obviously it won’t be the government, who’s spending money on a new ad campaign, but when will the airlines learn? Or do they not care about security as long as they can ask for more bailout money?

TrpGreg says:

passengers flying

Is the fly out catching on with domestic would have been passengers, or are only foreign travelers affected by the TSA see you naked in detail or grope you policy.

I have chosen not to fly for months, and hold off on any need to fly as long as I can until the courts address the lawsuits against the TSA.
I have little doubt that I might file a lawsuit if I need to fly a U.S. air carrier flight and I would rather avoid the hassle.

The terrorists may have lost the military part of the war, but who won the economic, and domestic part of the war? Seems like were still paying for what the enemy did nine years ago, and may be for a very long time. Feel away TSA.

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