Myrtle Beach Chamber looks to new Visa Waiver Program study to draw international travelers
By Christel Bell| December 16, 2014 at 7:08 AM EST - Updated July 10 at 9:06 AM
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A new study shows how improved Visa laws here in the United States would add billions in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs within five years.
Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean wants the Grand Strand to be the place those international travelers visit. Dean said, “With international inbound tourism growing so much, we want to position the Grand Strand to be an international destination.”
Dean said it will take an act of Congress to relax some of the visa policies that allow travelers to visit the U.S. “If Congress will expand the Visa Waiver Program to friendly nations that have appropriate security measures in place it could allow more tourists to come to the U.S. and; we think if they find their way to the U.S., it's a good chance they will find their way to the Myrtle Beach area,” explained Dean.
The new study released Monday, by the Partnership for a New American Economy, looked at the expansion of the Visa Waiver Program in the U.S. and how it will boost the economy and create thousands of jobs.
The key findings of the study found the Visa Waiver Program has a meaningful impact driving increases in U.S. tourists volumes.
The study also found if a handful of trusted countries currently being evaluated for membership in the Visa Waiver Program were to gain entry in 2015, the impact on U.S. tourism volumes would be sizable, and last, expanding the Visa Waiver Program would support our economy and create valuable jobs.
The study shows that if just six countries: Brazil, Hong Kong, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, and Poland, were to gain entry into the Visa Waiver Program in 2015, more than 600,000 additional travelers from those countries would visit America in the year that followed.
It also stated we could see $7.66 billion in additional tourist spending within a five-year period.
The study credits the 9/11 terrorists attacks for the stricter and tougher visa policies which they claim is widely seen as a deterrent to foreign travel.
Dead added, “When you look at the recent years, at the problems we've had from tourism, it hasn't been from people coming here on tourist visas. We simply need to make sure that the friendly nations have adequate security procedures, both before and after their transportation security processing, and we'll be able to allow more visitors coming from nations like Israel who want to come here and spend their money, and this helps our community and creates jobs.”
Dean also explained that there is potential particularly in the golf industry. “For us to lure visitors here, its a tremendous opportunity to bring more visitors during our slower times and that will help create jobs in the spring, the fall, and the winter when we desperately need more business and more job,” said Dean.