On the heels of Travel and Tourism Week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank visited the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia today as part of the trade mission she is leading this week to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.
Currently, the U.S. consular section in Colombia is the sixth busiest worldwide by volume of visa applicants. So far this year, the record for one day processing was 3,001 applicants—the highest in the world for that day. On average, the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia receives 2,300 applicants a day for travelers visiting the United States for tourism, work, or education purposes.
The Acting Secretary’s visit directly supports the Obama Administration’s commitment to promoting travel to, and tourism within, the United States. Travel and tourism, which represents the United States’ number one service export, is a crucial stimulator for the American economy. In March 2013, spending by international visitors to the United States totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year.
Travel and tourism-related industries support nearly 8 million American jobs, and with the release of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy last year, the Obama Administration underscored the importance the industry to job creation and economic growth across the United States. The Strategy aims to increase both domestic and international travel throughout the United States, setting a goal of drawing 100 million international visitors to the United States by 2021. These visitors are expected to generate $250 billion annually by 2021.
The Commerce Department continues to support growth in the travel and tourism sector and attract more international visitors to the United States. And visitors to the United States from Colombia are already increasing. From January through November 2012, nearly 521,000 Colombian residents visited the United States – up 19 percent over the first 11 months of 2011. By working with trading partners like Colombia to ensure that international travel is safe and visa processing is efficient, the United States will support the creation of more American jobs.