Progress report on National Travel and Tourism Strategy highlights investments in Southwest Border region

This week, the White House unveiled a progress report from their National Travel & Tourism Strategy from the Task Force on Travel & Competitiveness. This report highlights progress that has occurred over the last 180 days. NPI is proud of our work highlighting the pivotal role the southwest border region of the United States and Mexico have played in enhancing tourism and travel into the United States. The core of our argument may be seen in the following excerpts from the progress report.

For more from NPI on this please read our report Realizing the Full Value of Tourism from Mexico to the United States, here. This timely and important report from NPI and the North American Center for Transborder Studies out lines the importance of investing in our southwest border infrastructure to increase our travel and tourism potential. That and highlights from the report can be seen here.

Recognizing the importance of tourism from Mexico

  • Travel from Mexico accounts for more revenue to the U.S. economy than travel from any other country other than Canada (whose citizens are largely visa exempt).
  • In 2011, Mexican visitors spent over $9.2 billion dollars in the United States, and 8.5 million Mexican citizens have valid U.S. tourist and/or business visas.

Border Infrastructure

  • Under the 2012 Action Plan, efforts will continue to focus on expanding border crossing infrastructure at high priority locations such as the Mariposa port of entry in Nogales; supporting and institutionalizing the Regional Master Planning processes to jointly plan new border crossings; establishing pilot pre-inspection and pre-screening programs for cargo in the U.S. and Mexico; building complementary trusted traveler and trusted shipper programs; collaborating to combat transnational criminal organizations; and planning and executing joint patrols to prevent violence in the border region.

Visa Tourism

  • Consular officers at State’s ten visa-issuing posts in Mexico issued 837,596 visas and border crossing cards from January through June 2012, an increase of almost 32 percent from the same time period in the previous year.
  • State is improving the visa applicant experience for Mexicans through a variety of efficiency measures.  Mexican consular sections have introduced a nationwide appointment system that allows applicants to find and utilize the next available appointment among all of the 10 consular sections in Mexico, and introduced fee payment by credit card online or over the phone—giving applicants more convenience and more options.
  • State also opened a new consulate general building in Ciudad Juarez in 2008, another in Tijuana in 2011, and will open a third in Monterrey in 2014. All of these facilities dramatically expanded the size and efficiency of consular operations. In Monterrey, the number of visa interview windows will increase from 27 to 41.