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US launches ad campaign to promote tourism

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This week the US has launched their first-ever marketing campaign aimed at increasing tourism to the country. The campaign includes print, web and video ads created by Brand USA, which is a group consisting of government agencies and private companies.

This is the first time that the U.S. has marketed themselves as a tourist destination directly to people living in other countries. While many other countries have seen an increase in tourism, the US has seen a decline in tourism numbers, mostly due to complicated visa procedures and tightened security that followed the September 11 2001 attacks. While the U.S. had 17 percent of the global tourism spending in 2000, this year it has only 11 percent.

The U.S. will begin its tourism campaign by targeting countries like Japan, Canada and other countries with high spending tourists. These countries are also are part of the US visa waiver program. Last year, Canadians became the top international spenders among tourists visiting the U.S., spending $24 billion. According to the US Travel Association, the average overseas visitor to the United States spends $4000 per trip.

Brand USA plans to spend about USD$12.3 million on advertising in the next three months with funds from the federal Travel Promotion Act. They plan on targeting other countries such as Brazil and South Korea as the campaign progresses.

"Dollars are tight today and we want to be very thoughtful about where and when we spend them,'' said Stephen J. Cloobeck, the chairman of Brand USA and CEO of Diamond Resorts International. "But we're doing we're doing all this with a smile and a sign that says 'Welcome to the United States.'''

The print ads feature pictures of popular US spots including New Orleans' French Quarter and the Redwood Preserve in California.

Brand USA is also working with U.S. immigration to reduce wait times for B-1/B-2 visitor visas and make further changes to encourage more international visitors.

Nationals from some countries are required to obtain a visitor visa before travelling to the U.S. In these cases, tourists will need to apply for a B-2 visitor visa. Those wishing to enter the US temporarily for business will need to apply for a B-1 visa. Those wishing to visit for pleasure or tourism purposes should apply for the B-2 visa. These visas will generally give you 6 months permission to be in the U.S. However, in practice applicants are usually given a combined B-1/B-2 business and tourist visitor visa.

The B-2 visitor visa is for entry as a tourist or for other non-business related purposes. On a B-1 business visitor visa, you may:
  • Conduct Negotiations
  • Solicit sales or investment
  • Discuss planned investment or purchases
  • Make investments or purchases
  • Attend Meetings, and participate in them fully
  • Interview and hire staff
  • Conduct research
If your country is part of the US Visa Waiver Program you can visit the US for up to 90 days without applying for a visitor visa. Countries currently part of the visa waiver program include Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, and France.

Although, citizens of countries under the visa waiver program are required to apply for the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. You will need to submit the ESTA if:
  • You are a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • You are currently not in possession of a visitor's visa.
  • Your travel is for 90 days or less.
  • You plan to travel to the US for business or pleasure.

If you would like to apply for a US visa, can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.