Posts Tagged ‘Department of State’

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Study in the States, Inshallah

June 19, 2014

Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center and Senior Commercial Officer Dao Le of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait produced the “Study in the States” video series.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen featured in the video series who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States. You can see his story, and the story of other citizens, courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

Every year thousands of international students travel to America to pursue degrees at our world-class colleges and universities. In fact, educating international students represents a huge chunk of our annual service exports.

Not only do students gain valuable experience studying abroad, but they often return to the United States after graduating and bring family members and friends who help stimulate the travel and tourism industry. So, it’s no wonder then that the U.S. government works hard to recruit more students, especially because there is a lot of competition from countries that are also popular destinations for students, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

To remain competitive, the Departments of State and Commerce teamed up with the embassy in Kuwait City to produce short video spots aimed at Kuwaiti high school students to highlight the benefits of studying abroad in America.

The videos address some common beliefs Kuwaitis have when they think about studying abroad – commonly that the process of applying for a visa is overly burdensome or that it’s difficult to fit in in the United States. The spots are designed to assure young students that these beliefs are untrue.

The videos feature Kuwaiti citizens who graduated from U.S. schools, and now enjoy rewarding careers, which they attribute to their time studying in the United States.

The first group of videos includes speakers such as a senior advisor to the Kuwait government, the regional sales manager for Microsoft, and a high school English language teacher. Some key points they discuss are that:

  • The visa application process is not discriminatory.
  • There are important deadlines the applicants need to adhere by.
  • Americans are welcoming to foreign students and universities are accepting to the different culture these students bring with them. For example, often colleges offer prayer rooms and halal food for Muslim students
  • Studying abroad in America is extremely important in creating an independent, creative, and self-assured student.

Through this program, we hope that international students will feel more comfortable applying to American study abroad programs and at the end of the day be better prepared for their quest to “Study in the States, Inshallah (if God wills it).”

 

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Celebrating a Strategy to Increase Travel and Tourism and Create Jobs

May 9, 2013

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

2012 was a record year for travel and tourism in the United States. The industry generated $168.1 billion worth of U.S. exports, an impressive 10 percent increase over 2011, and supported 7.7 million jobs. Recognizing this sector’s potential to continue driving job growth, President Obama last year called for the creation of a National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Strategy’s release.

The Strategy, co-led by the Departments of Commerce and Interior, is a comprehensive, government-wide approach to increase travel and tourism to and within the United States. Since its introduction, more than a dozen partner agencies have coordinated to enhance tourism promotion efforts, improve the visa application and entry experiences, and collaborate with the private sector – including BrandUSA – and state and local destinations in various ways. These and other activities are aimed at attracting 100 million annual visitors by the end of 2021, a 61 percent increase over 2011.

The Strategy is already bearing fruit. Two examples I would like to highlight are:

  • Our partners at the Department of State are expanding their consular facilities and streamlining their visa processes. As a result, nine out of ten visa applicants worldwide are now interviewed within three weeks of submitting applications. In some key markets, wait times have fallen to only a few days even as the number of applications increases.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have launched programs to reduce screening and entry processing times for domestic and international passengers alike. CBP’s Global Entry program is now available at 44 airports, while TSA’s Pre Check is present at 40.

Improvements like these have made the visitor experience better without compromising our security. While we take pride in successes like these, we recognize that more work remains to be done, especially given economic headwinds and fiscal challenges in some of the countries that send visitors to our shores.

Our nation offers domestic and international visitors a wealth of amazing tourism experiences. Those visitors, in turn, spend hundreds of billions of dollars right here in the United States and contribute to our national efforts to create jobs here at home. I invite you to review the Strategy as we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (May 4-12) and let us know how your community can play its part.

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