The tax on tourists is particularly stupidyou have hotel and restaurant lobbies from Las Vegas and Florida to thank for thatbut the visa requirements are the real long-term problem. This 2009 Jaunted post gives you an idea of how complicated it is just to get started. The picture above is from a lecture given by US consulate officials on how to navigate the process. We have to give people full-blown classes on this topic.
Now President Obama is kind of addressing the mess. He is dismissing the need for travelers to get visas at all...if you're a tourist in the United States for a vacation...and you're from Taiwan. For everyone else who needs a tourist visa, the President's goal is to get 80% of non-immigration applicants interviewed within...3 weeks.
It's a start.
The President is also adding more personnel to American offices in China and Brazil. Those are two countries with lots of people and not many consuls, and the measure will hopefully reduce wait times. There are rumors that Brazilians actually travel to other countries to get U.S. visas because the consular offices in the country are so overloaded.
Again, baby steps.
[Photo: US Mission Canada]