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New Coalition Spending Millions for Visa Reform

September 29, 2011
A decade after 9/11, a new coalition is making a big push to reform the tourist visa regulations that were imposed after the attacks, but says it is facing government resistance despite arguing that easing travel restrictions would boost the economy. 

The coalition, led by the U.S. Travel Association, is trying to make it easier for big-spending Indians, Brazilians and Chinese to get visas to travel to the United States, saying that fixing the system will be a boon to the American economy.

The effort includes hiring field staff across the country, lobbying the Hill and an online campaign. The coalition, which includes trade associations, hotel groups and both the SEIU and Chamber of Commerce, is also plugging a new report commissioned by the USTA that highlights the negative impact of current visa policies. The report predicts that reform would create 1.3 million new jobs, grow exports by $390 billion and attract 98 million more cash-stuffed visitors by 2020.

If none of those traditional methods of lobbying work, the group is ready to call out lawmakers for stifling growth.

"If we have to, we're going to shame people into action," said Geoff Freeman, the executive vice president of the USTA, which is committing $7 to $10 million over the next two years on the campaign.


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