Florida tourism officials say America’s restrictive travel visa rules are costing the Sunshine State big bucks.
The Visa Waiver Program currently allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for tourism without having to obtain visas.
But a newly released study from the non-partisan Partnership for a New American Economy shows that letting just six more countries into the program would result in an additional $7.5 billion in tourist spending over five years.
One of those countries is Brazil, Miami’s number-one international feeder market for tourism.
“Brazil loves Miami," says William Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Folks come here to vacation, to start businesses, to buy condos. Within a year of a visa waiver being granted for Brazil, the number of Brazilians to Miami could almost double.”
The other five countries included in the study were Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Hong Kong and Poland. The study’s authors say adding those countries to the Visa Waiver Program in 2015 would create over 50,000 new jobs within five years.