For years & years & years my wife & I have known that the American government makes it hard for foreigners -- Brits, French people, people from absolutely everywhere -- to visit America. It is hard to get a visa -- a temporary permit to come visit America.
How is it hard? Well, in some cases, you have to travel hundreds of miles to the only place that will issue an American passport -- London, for instance. Recently there was a big to-do in the British press about the school group that cancelled a tour to America because it would have cost thousands of pounds to transport all of them to London.
We have known this fact -- how hard it is to come for just a visit to the US -- we have known this for years. Many of our friends knew this , and all our friends who live abroad complain of the difficulty.
This was not deemed newsworthy by the network news. Lets face it, since 9/11 Americans are not keen to have foreigners come here: they might be carrying bombs. Best if they stay where they are. So what if it is hard to come visit America.
But there was a big piece on the network news on how hard it is for foreigners to come here, visit the US, spend money here -- and that was the key. Spend money here. The average French tourists, in two weeks, spends so much & so much, and the average Chinese visitor -- millions of whom are dying to come here -- spends…
Suddenly we want them to come here. We want them to come here & spend their money here -- because that would mean more jobs for us. Key words: Money, jobs. We want them here temporarily -- and most want to come here temporarily -- they want to come here on vacation -- and we want them to spend money here.
It is all on the angle taken. Do you want millions of foreigners to come to the US, one of whom could be a terrorist? Do you want millions of foreigners to come here & spend their money here?
And here are the stunning stastistic. In the year 2000, 26 million foreign visitors came to the US. Ten years later, 2010, 26.4 million visitors came here. In a ten year span, the number of visitors to America barely increased in numbers -- but visitors to Europe -- most likely those who couldn’t visit us -- increased by multiple millions in the last decade.
The reporter said: we want them to come visit us. The anchorperson enthusiastically added, and spend their money here.
There is no better diplomacy than person to person diplomacy. It is hard to hate a human being you’ve met who seems so much like you. It is easy to hate the abstract thing called a Muslim or an Arab or a Chinaman. We must encourage visits. We must try to make it easy to acquire a visa. We want them to spend money here, get to know us -- and we desperately need to get to know them. We are insulated country. We need news from abroad -- and as the ancherperson said: we need their money.