Writing in today’s Telegraph, Michael Burleigh opines that
We also need to terminate the existence of “Londonistan”. A dedicated border police might practise the sort of steely-eyed scrutiny that awaits anyone going to or leaving America.
By greater than a 2:1 margin, the US is the number one choice from a list of 10 broadly defined destinations when it comes to being the MOST unfriendly to international travelers.
Apparently 39% of respondents regarded the US as
the worst [area] when it comes being traveler-friendly in terms of obtaining necessary documents or visas, and having immigration officials who are respectful toward foreign visitors
The Middle East was thus regarded by 16% and Africa by 12%. Europe was at 6%.
The U.S. ranks with Africa and the Middle East when it comes to traveler-friendly paperwork and officials.
When asked which ‘Which ONE location on the map indicated BEST meets the requirement’ of being
Traveler-friendly in terms of obtaining necessary documents or visas, and immigration officials who are respectful toward foreign visitors
The USA scored 8%, as compared with Africa’s 5% and the Middle East’s 10% (Europe scored 35%)
Other findings in the survey were that
- 54% of international travelers say that [US] immigration officials are rude.
- Immigration officials far outpace the threat of crime or terrorism as something international travelers worry about when considering coming to the US.
- Two-thirds of travelers surveyed fear they will be detained at the point of entry because of a simple mistake or misstatement.
Earlier in the year, Kuoni (the UK’s largest long-haul tour operator)
blamed stringent security measures and confusion over visas for a dramatic downturn in the number of British travellers visiting America. Kuoni claims that its bookings for the USA were down 30 per cent last year from 2004.
Hurricane Katrina, which tore through Florida and devastated New Orleans, and negative feeling over America’s attack on Iraq have put travellers off, but Kuoni managing director Sue Biggs said the ‘chaos over visas’ was mainly to blame.
Quite apart from the economic implications, when it comes to winning hearts and minds, this does actually appear to matter:
- Those with experience visiting America are 74 percent more likely to have an extremely favorable opinion of the country versus those who have not visited recently.
- 63 percent of travelers feel more favorable towards the U.S. as a result of their visit.
- 61 percent agree that, once a person visits the U.S., they become friendlier towards the country and its policies.
- Negative attitudes about U.S. treatment of visitors are having a much larger effect on keeping travelers away from the U.S. than negative attitudes about U.S. policies in the world.
- Nearly nine in 10 travelers tell their friends, relatives about their travel experiences most or all of the time.
As to the efficacy of all this steely-eyed scrutiny, according to the Department of Homeland Security at the end of 2005,
Since January 2004, US‑VISIT has processed more than 44 million visitors. It has spotted and apprehended nearly 1,000 people with criminal or immigration violations, according to a DHS press release.
That’s it; US-VISIT ‘collects digital photos and fingerprint scans of travelers’ index fingers and compares them with photos and fingerprint scans of known terrorists and other criminals on watchlists,’ and by so doing, manages to apprehend one person for every 44,000 it scans. Notice, by the way, the qualification criminal or immigration violations there — that’s not 1 in 44,000 who is discovered to be a known terrorist, or even necessarily a known criminal. At a cost so far of at least $15 billion, or $1.5 million per bad guy detected.
None of which, of course, would have kept the 9/11 bods out.
As couple of footnotes; first, I can’t help wondering, with Andrew Bartlett and Pigdogfucker, why ‘Londinistan’ is considered perfectly acceptable in the national press when the surely similar tropes ‘Jew York’ or ‘Hymietown’ are, quite rightly, completely unacceptable outside the rhetoric of head-banging anti-Semites.
Second, Mr Burleigh complains that,
we lazily allow Islamist fundamentalists to equate our culture with trashy television programmes about penile implants, rather than Bach, Rubens or Mozart, Newton, Pascal or Einstein. As the philosopher Roger Scruton has written, we should be more careful about what image (and reality) of ourselves we project into more traditional societies.
This sounds remarkably similar to the theme of a forthcoming book by Disesh D’Souza, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility For 9/11. America’s most reasonable conservative commentator, Jon Swift, hasn’t actually read the book, but this did not stop him having some problems deciding what movies he should and shouldn’t watch, since obviously he doesn’t want to let the terrorists win, as a result of not having read it (as it were).
tags: War on Terror, US-VISIT, DiscoverAmerica survey, Londinistan