Visa Difficulties Slow U.S. Tourism

"The policies implemented - well-intentioned - over the past five years, appear to have strengthened our security," Porter said. "Lost, however, were efficiencies and a semblance of customer service."

But the instructional video hasn't been produced, and there are still shortages of CBP staff, the Travel Industry Association said.

At a meeting of travel executives, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson said the two departments were studying the results of the model airport program. "We could do just a little better job of this," Jackson said.

There have been some successes. Rice and Chertoff promised to speed visa processing for businesspeople, students and academics. In the 2006 budget year, a record number of student visas were issued - 6 percent more than in the year leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. The State Department also issued more business visas - 12 percent more in 2006 than the year before.

Travel executives are asking for more airport and consular staff, a visa system that uses new technology, more model airports and a campaign to promote the U.S. as a welcoming place to visit.


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