Facing the loss of international tourism dollars and the perception of an unwelcoming experience arriving in the United States, new procedures are going to be enacted at certain US airports to make the customs experience more pleasant. Washington Dulles and Houston International will be the model airports for a new program to present a warmer image to visiting international travelers.
“Think of when you go to Disney World,” said Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, which pushed for the initiative with backing from Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. “They manage the lines, you feel welcome and all that. You can accomplish both security and have a welcome mat out.”
Confronted by sharp declines in foreign visitors, decreased enrollment in U.S. schools by foreign students and less cross-border traffic after the terrorist attacks, Chertoff and Rice appeared at the State Department in a joint bid to repackage the government’s sometimes discordant efforts to increase security and speed the movement of people and goods. via Washington Post
Trying to balance having a safe border crossing with a pleasant experience can not be that difficult. The federal government has to stop acting like a bureaucracy and start recognizing that they are providing a service. Once that attitude changes, then the process can stop being so horrible, and may provide help to our tourism industry.