U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement in response to Friday's announcement that the Republic of Chile will enter the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
"To all of our soon-to-be guests from the beautiful nation of Chile, we in the American travel community say: bienvenidos.
"Chile is a terrific addition to the Visa Waiver community. Visitors to the U.S. from Chile spent over $5,000 per trip in 2012, 15 percent more than the average overseas traveler. And the economic effect of adding countries to VWP is incredibly dramatic; research my organization is about to release shows that when South Korea joined the program, visitor spending in the U.S. from that country tripled in the first year.
"Visa Waiver is that rare government program without any downside: it makes it easier for overseas travelers and their dollars to get here, with no compromise in security because they are coming from friendly, stable countries with reliable screening apparatus of their own. Overseas travelers come, they inject cash into our economy and they leave with a better impression of our country.
"The more broadly we are able to expand Visa Waiver, the more direct and uniformly positive effects there will be for our economy, plain and simple."
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.0 trillion in economic output and supports 14.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.