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National Restaurant Association - NRA joins tourism groups in pushing for visa reform

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NRA joins tourism groups in pushing for visa reform

The National Restaurant Association has teamed up with other travel and hospitality groups to back reforms in the U.S. visa process, which will ultimately add jobs and boost business in U.S. restaurants.

The NRA is on the leadership committee of the Discover America Partnership, which this spring month released Ready for Takeoff, a report about how to improve U.S. visa policies and create 1.3 million new jobs.

The problem: America's tough visa process drives millions of international visitors to other countries. World travel grew by more than 60 million travelers between 2000 and 2010 but the U.S. share of the market remained essentially flat. This "lost decade" meant the U.S. economy failed to gain more than $600 billion in spending from 78 million additional visitors. With research showing that dining out is one of the top activities for travelers, U.S. restaurants lost potential business as travelers failed to come to the United States.

“Ready for Takeoff” outlines a comprehensive plan to grow the U.S. share of the travel market. The plan includes recommendations to reduce visa interview wait times to 10 days or fewer and institute new ways to measure the effectiveness of the visa process.

The Discover America Partnership's ideas are gaining traction. President Obama's new Jobs and Competitiveness Council -- 26 private-sector leaders developing ideas to accelerate job growth in the United States -- June 13 included improving visa policy and welcoming millions of new visitors to America as among valuable initiatives to be undertaken to create jobs. (Read Wall Street Journal op-ed here.)

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