US Plans to Ease Visa Hassle for Tourists Who Shop

Posted on February 14, 2012


Retailers like Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s CEO, have successfully lobbied to relax travel rules for Chinese and Brazilians.


For centuries, Chinese tourists lined around the block to buy from the high-end boutiques of Paris, Rome, and every other European Metropolitan, while US retail owners like Gould could only watch and sulk.


Post-September 11 security policies have left many wealthy foreign shoppers waiting for months for travel visas to the US, leaving retailer’s international sales at a decade’s all time low. At least until Gould and CEOs of Macy’s and Saks began lobbying the federal government to ease the rules for high spending tourists from China and Brazil. According to the Commerce Department, the average Chinese tourist spends $6,000 while in the US.


In January, President Obama gave the State Dept. 60 days to develop a way to decrease the time that Chinese and Brazilian tourists have to wait for a visa from a whopping four months to three weeks. This should help raise the 30 percent drop that the US had experienced from 2000 to 2010.


Roughly 1.4 million Chinese 1 million plus Brazilians are expected to come to the US this year under the new program. And a greater business, of course means a greater staff. Bloomingdale’s is preparing to higher more multilingual sales staff and planning new overseas ad campaigns.

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