Washington, June 6 (Reuters)-The U.S. Department of Commerce was hit hard by COVID-19 and the government’s travel ban on Monday by streamlining the immigration process and promoting a wider variety of destinations. Announcing a new strategy aimed at boosting tourism.

The “National Travel and Tourism Strategy” will set a target of 90 million international visitors by 2027, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and spending an estimated $ 279 billion annually, the ministry told Reuters. rice field.

“There are many industries that go far beyond COVID, not travel or tourism,” US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an interview.

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According to a draft strategic document seen by Reuters, the federal government is helping to revive travel and tourism to ensure that the industry is rebuilt to be “more resilient, sustainable and equitable.” I have to work harder to do it.

In 2019, the number of foreign visitors to the United States was 79.4 million, but due to the pandemic, it plummeted to 19.2 million in 2020 and increased to just 22.1 million in 2021.

According to the Department of Commerce, international visitors spent $ 239.4 billion in 2019, compared to only $ 81 billion in 2019.

Before COVID, tourism was supported 9.5 million US jobs And it generated $ 1.9 trillion in economic production.

One of the goals of the strategy is to modernize immigration procedures for visitors to enter and leave the United States.

“We need to streamline the entry process,” Lymond said. “This is tedious and very paper-based, and we want to move to a more digital process.”

Other goals include promoting a more diverse US tourism experience across coastal countries, reducing tourism’s contribution to climate change, building natural disasters, public health threats, and building sectors that are resilient to climate change. It will be.

One of the reasons tourism has fallen so sharply is that the United States has lagging behind many other countries by lifting COVID border restrictions, banning many of the world from entering. .. US rules were not relaxed until November 2021.

The United States still requires foreigners to be vaccinated against COVID, and almost all international passengers must be tested negative before traveling. US airlines say that almost every other country they serve does not require testing.

Raimondo admitted that the test was a “barrier” to the tourism industry and the United States was an “outlier”, but did not predict when these rules would be relaxed.

“We’ve heard a lot from the industry and have expressed it to the government,” Lymond said.

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Report by David Shepherdson; Edited by Jamie Fried

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