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U.S. looks to Disney for welcome for visitors - Reuters 12/5/06

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  • U.S. looks to Disney for welcome for visitors - Reuters 12/5/06

    U.S. looks to Disney for welcome for visitors
    Reuters 12/5/06

    U.S. looks to Disney for welcome for visitors

    WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Faced with a decline in the number of overseas visitors and unpopular entry requirements, the U.S. government is turning to the Walt Disney Co. and other theme park operators to brighten the country's battered image.

    With security much tightened since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the visa and entry processes are so unpopular that the country was ranked as the world's most unfriendly to visitors in a survey last month of travelers from 16 nations.

    Last January, the government promised to work with the private sector to ceate a more welcoming environment without compromising security.

    But the "Rice-Chertoff Joint Vision" announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has yet to become reality.

    So far, applying for American visas still involves standing for hours in long lines at fortress-like embassies. Stern immigration officials at American airports often inspire fear, according to the survey.

    Enter the U.S. travel industry, which has watched with concern the parallel trends of rising anti-American feeling around the world and declining visitor numbers. Since Sept. 11, 2001, industry leaders say, the government has tended to see foreign visitors as potential threats, and the screening process reflects that view.

    "We have missed an opportunity to make people feel welcome," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "The whole process must be friendlier and more efficient. We must invest in creating a first impression of hospitality and friendliness at our borders."
    Full Story - U.S. looks to Disney for welcome for visitors
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