Video conferencing: The new way to award visas to U.S. visitors?

Thursday, April 29 2010

With the national economy slowly recovering, drawing visitors to the U.S. can be an important way to generate revenue. Roger Dow, U.S. Travel's president and CEO, told Travel Agent Central, "Overseas visitors are walking stimulus packages, each spending an average of more than $4,000 per visit to the U.S."

Still, a lot of international travelers can't get visas to enter the U.S. because American consulates are inconveniently located. Travel Agent Central reports that just three cities in the vast country of China have a U.S. consulate that offers visa interviews, and some Brazilians have to travel more than 1,300 miles to be interviewed.

To improve the visa application process, the U.S. Travel Association has approved a secure video conferencing pilot program, reports Travel Agent Central. This visa technology may attract millions of visitors by offering potential guests the ability to apply for visas from the comfort of their home towns. The technology is predicted to nearly double arrivals from key countries over the next five years.

Video conferencing is already saving U.S. businesses money on travel expenses and other meeting costs. Now, HotelExecutive.com says video conferencing solutions stand to bring in as much as $24.2 billion in export revenues and create about 207,600 jobs through the secure visa application program.ADNFCR-3295-ID-19751859-ADNFCR