In November 2006, the Discover America Partnership, an association of travel industry executives, surveyed more than 2,000 international travellers and found that the United States was considered the least welcoming destination in the world, by a ratio of greater than two to one. Thirty-nine percent of respondents selected the United States as having the “worst” entry process, followed by the Middle East, cited by 16 percent of respondents.
Geoff Freeman, the executive director of the Discover America Partnership, said that just 2 percent of survey respondents ranked Canada as the worst. “I find that especially telling,” he said. “You have two countries right next to each other, very culturally similar, both threatened by terrorism, and one appears to be finding a way to strike a balance between security and entry that is far more appealing to world travellers.”
Last month, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, in Alexandria, Va., conducted an informal survey of its non-American members who travel to the United States frequently on business. The survey found that a majority complained of American travel policies, especially the difficulty in obtaining visas.
Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association which organized the Consumer Electronics Show put on last month in Las Vegas, an international meeting where many foreigners were unable to come due to visa problems said:
“Imagine if, living abroad you want to travel to the USA, you have to fly to another city to get permission to get a document, wait in line for hours, bring a financial statement of your net worth and everything you own, pay $100, wait one month, and then get a yes or a no, with no explanation why”.
“Our visa policies are discouraging international business in the United States and giving other countries a competitive advantage over us.”
This is true. In November 2006, Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm, found that the number of business arrivals in the United States fell 10 percent from 2004 to 2005, while the number of such arrivals in Europe grew 8 percent over the same period.
Yesterday, at the Tom Bradley International Airport of Los Angeles normal check-in was not allowed.
When checking in to fly the computer of the airline is connected to the database of the American Government.
If a passenger is considered suspicious automatically a code appears on the boarding pass: SSSS.
The security employee explained that the name of this passenger was obviously on a list of suspicious individuals and therefore automatically the double SS had come up.
Why or how is not explained.
Maybe because of having an Iranian visa in the passport?
Or because of frequently entering the USA from different countries?
Or because of a Polish name, Dutch nationality and having an address in Spain and South Dakota?
In any case, an extra security check needed to be performed.
A security employee took this passenger to a special area for a scrutinous security check.
The details of this security check are embarrassing but what should be mentioned is that it is remarkable that at the border crossing at Tijuana two weeks ago and yesterday at LAX, all officials were extremely impolite and bad tempered.
It is possible that a country considers itself at war and under attack and wishes to protect their borders.
But we must wonder why this is done in such an uncourteous way?
In two weeks will be the return to the USA and already mind exercises are performed not to feel and think negatively about this upcoming event.