Published on Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Uncertainty of welcome in Chicago was culprit in lost Olympics

The uncertainty of their welcome and the spotty reputation of US tourism to foreigners almost certainly played a part in the lost Chicago bid to host the 2016 Olympics, authorities say.

Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

President Obama, who was there as part of the 10-person team, assured Ali that all visitors would be made to feel welcome. “One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world,” he said.”

But the games went to Rio de Janeiro.

The US Travel Association attributed part of that reason to the lack of a welcome mat for foreigners. Said Roger Dow, US Travel President:

“When IOC members are commenting to our President that foreign visitors find traveling to the United States a ‘pretty harrowing experience,’ we need to take seriously the challenge of reforming our entry process to ensure there is a welcome mat to our friends around the world, even as we ensure a secure system.”

International travel to the US declined by 10 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to the US Department of Commerce.

To lure visitors back, US Travel has been pushing the Travel Promotion Act, which recently was passed in the Senate and is awaiting action in the House, to create a campaign to strengthen the image of the United States abroad.

By David Wilkening

Story Image

Your Comments (4)

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story
Code Request a new picture 5 characters

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Lucky Chicago - What a Saving!

    Chicagoans should be breathing a sigh of relief that they lost the Olympics. The UK is about to discover what a money sink hole hosting the Olympics can be. Of course, Blair has passed on to greater things so he will escape the public's wrath. As for US immigration procedures they must be on a par with Russia and China. Even Chinese procedures are more transparent. As a Canadian who has roamed this world for about 40 years I place the American, Chinese and Russian immigration process in the same class for selecting the most miserable bunch of lead heads on their borders. Canadians have easier access to the USA than most countries but the treatment meted out to others is extreme starting with the line-up at the consulate offices - no coffee, no cell phones, no, no, no! If you get 'lucky' you then have the privilege of meeting the most miserable, suspicious Americans around - the US immigration officer. And now they want to charge MORE? The reward lies beyond them when you get to meet real friendly and welcoming Americans ... almost worth the hassles ... but not the cost.

    By J Hewson, Thursday, October 8, 2009

  • Excuse me????

    Attn: Lee Wilson "FYI - the majority of Europeans DO NOT have credit cards. Hello?????" Most of us do, indeed, have Credit Cards...we also have electricity AND running water. In fact, it frustrates us that YOUR credit cards do not have anti-fraud chip and PIN tecnolology and you try to use them here.

    By Tony Ozell, Thursday, October 8, 2009

  • US Travel needs reality check

    The Travel Promotion Act is another example of American arrogance. We're going to promote travel by adding an additional tax on those very travelers. And to make it worse we're going to "make it easy" by allowing them to pay the $10 tax using their credit cards. FYI - the majority of Europeans DO NOT have credit cards. Hello?????

    By Lee Wilson, Tuesday, October 6, 2009

  • Visa process is the first hurdle they should attack

    Its a pity that they want to spend a lot of money on promoting the US abroad instead of just facilitating tourism with a better tourist visa process and also internal infrastructure such as currency exchange, more information services to visitors etc. But don't worry, the US will get the visa process right in the own face over this decision... Rio Olympics will require visas for US citizens! The cost is pretty big too. (most European nationals are exempt).

    By Vasilis Petrakis, Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mole Poll
'Hotelier 'frustrated by Maldives state of emergency' - Are you still selling Maldives ?
yes 50.53 %
no 49.47 %

Thank you for your vote

Move scroll bar (above) left to right for more videos!

Sponsored features