Increase in US visitor visas applications from Brazil, China, and Mexico

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The US State Department has announced that it has already processed more than 1 million visas in China this year, a 43 percent increase over the first six months of fiscal year 2011. Visa applications this year are also up by 44 percent in Brazil and Mexico has shown a 36 percent increase during the same period.

Of the top 20 countries sending tourists to the US, only the UK, Spain and Ireland have shown decreases in visitor visa numbers to the US so far this year.

The White House believes that the increasing number of tourists is due in part to the Travel Promotion Act, which was passed in 2010. The act charged certain foreign visitors an additional USD$10 fee that was used to establish a tourism marketing and promotional fund.

Roughly 1.2 million mainland Chinese visited the US last year and this number is expected to reach 2 million by 2015.

This month US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Brazil to meet with international counterparts to discuss the possibility of adding Brazil to the US' Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Napolitano signed a Statement of Intent with Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota to begin a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Working Group in order to place Brazil on the US VWP list. Once the working group is created, the necessary actions will be taken to determine if Brazil can, in fact, be added to the VWP list. If the country is added to the list, it is likely the US will see more Brazilian tourists since it will be easier to travel to the US.

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