AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Friday, March 30, 2012
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at the Launch of the Visit USA Committee in Mumbai, India
Thank you, President Kakkar, Vice President Gursahani, and all of the members of the VisitUSA Committee.
It is a pleasure to officially launch Visit USA in India!
The Commerce Department just released new data on the number of Indian visitors to the United States. We had great news. In 2011, we welcomed over 660,000 visitors from India – a record. I’d like to thank everyone on the Committee who helped make those trips happen.
Travel and tourism to the U.S. is an important way for us to expand our commercial ties and ensure balanced trade growth between our countries. Total spending by Indians traveling to the U.S. was $4.6 billion last year, up 15 percent from the year before.
With the help of Visit USA, we expect this trend to continue.
But the most important aspect of travel and tourism between our two countries is not the dollar figures, but the person-to-person relationships that are cultivated.
I saw those interactions this week as my delegation of 16 U.S. businesses traveled to New Delhi, to Jaipur, and now in Mumbai. It was a particular honor to be the first-ever U.S. Commerce Secretary to visit Jaipur, a tourist hub and a fast-growing city unto itself.
People in both of our countries need more opportunities to meet face-to-face and interact with one another – whether for business or on holiday.
People here in India can go to great cities like New York or Chicago, you can experience the beauty of parks like Yellowstone, you can go to Disneyworld in Florida, or you can even go to Los Angeles, which is where I’m from.
Under President Obama’s leadership, the Commerce Department is working closely with America’s travel and tourism industry to encourage more travel from countries such as India to the U.S.
This is part of a larger plan called our National Travel and Tourism Strategy – which I, along with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, be delivering to President Obama in the coming weeks.
Already, we have launched BrandUSA, a public-private partnership – which you can find online at thebrandusa.com
And I am very pleased to say that the Administration is taking concrete actions to help more people from India visit America, and do so more easily.
Last week the U.S. Department of State announced a new pilot program that will allow certain applicants to apply for visas without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer.
This will make it easier for Indian citizens to come to the U.S. for business meetings and also take time to enjoy the many tourist and cultural activities that America has to offer.
We will continue to find more ways to make travel from India to the U.S. as simple as possible.
As two of the largest democracies in the world, we have much to share and to learn from each other.
Let’s get to know each other.
Let’s foster that deeper level of understanding and cultural exchange.
Let’s work to strengthen those important ties between our people.
I look forward to working with this Committee on this very important effort.
Now, it is a privilege to participate in the traditional lamp lighting ceremony marking the official launch of the Visit USA Committee in India.