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Monday, April 22, 2013

US Visa Reforms Pay Off

JacTravel, the UK-based B2B wholesaler best known for its extensive range of hotels online and inbound travel services, is reporting an exceptional period of growth in tourism from Brazil to the United States in the wake of visa reforms by the US government, in a report to be released on the first day of the inaugural World Travel Market Latin America.

In the past year JacTravel’s Brazilian bookings to the US have more than doubled, 127% up by value and 112% up by number of bookings, the company will tell delegates at WTM Latin America, which is taking place at the Transamerica Expocenter, Sao PauloBrazil (23-25 April). 

JacTravel puts this surge in growth down to measures taken by the US government to speed up visa processing.  Until early 2012 visas could only be issued by the four USconsulates in Brazil and the waiting time was 100 days.  However, since March 2012, in order to speed things up, the US State Department added processing staff and opened new offices.  Results have been immediate and dramatic.  Waiting times have virtually evaporated – down to just a week or even a couple of days in some places – and demand for US tourist visas has increased more than 60% in a few months.

WTM Latin America, a Reed Travel Exhibitions event, has been launched to tap in to the growing demand of Latin Americans to visit the world and for the world’s tourists to visitLatin America. The event will have more than one thousand exhibitors, all looking to negotiate and sign business deals with the industry’s leading buyers.

JacTravel sees participation at the new event as a key business development initiative.  It is aggressively sourcing hotel accommodation in the USA and in Latin America to meet the demand.  During the coming year, it will increase its ‘American product’ from 1220 to 1600 directly contracted hotels, with a focus on major US and Canadian cities, as well as BrazilArgentina and Mexico.

JacTravel’s Director of Sales, Alexia Renedo, said: “In Latin America, there’s a huge appetite to travel and the measures taken by the United States are evidently intended to take advantage of that enthusiasm.  JacTravel is eager to participate actively in this market, which is why we are investing in growing our American inventory rapidly and are exhibiting at the inaugural WTM Latin America. We expect it will be an excellent place to meet new contacts and to showcase our proposition to the travel trade.”
Alexia added: “We would be delighted to see any further easing of travel restrictions because this would be good for our business.  However, it would also be good for the economies of the USA and of Brazil.”

Reed Travel Exhibitions, Director, WTM Latin America, Lawrence Reinisch concluded: “Whilst the exceptional growth in travel to the USA has been encouraged by the new visa regime, there is likely to be growth in travel from Latin America to all overseas destinations. I am very pleased that major international wholesalers, like JacTravel, have chosen to exhibit at WTM Latin America, as it sees the potential the event offers to further expand its business.

The very high take up by exhibitors in the first year suggests that there is not just an exploding demand amongst Latin Americans to travel but also a need to facilitate a greater level of dialogue and networking within the industry.  I expect next year’s show will be even bigger as exhibitors see their businesses grow over the coming 12 months.”

The Brazilian government is lobbying the US government in order to include Brazil in the Visa Waiver Program.  President Dilma Roussef and Barack Obama had a meeting last year about this subject and talks are still ongoing.