She arrived at the airport near her home in Barcelona, Spain, three hours early, in case some security official decided to detain her for questioning। She carefully noted the address where she'd be staying in New York City, since a friend told her that without it border officials would send her right home.
"Since 9/11, everyone is afraid" of security problems when traveling to the U.S., Haensel said after picking up her luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport. That perception of the U.S. as an unwelcoming destination has tourism officials in New York City and tourism-related businesses nationwide focusing on a new marketing campaign and a national lobbying effort to try to win over foreigners who may have been picking other vacation spots. New York City launched its marketing effort on Wednesday. The city is one of only a few U.S. urban centers that did not see a drop in the number of overseas visitors between 2000 and 2006, and officials want to make sure the city holds onto that lead.
Welcome: New York wants a friendlier image
Now, international visitors arriving at one Kennedy Airport terminal will be greeted with large welcome signs and red-jacketed workers offering information, maps and insider tips on the city. Visitors who leave the airport in a taxi may also see a promotional video, and tourists around the city will see posters from the "Just Ask the Locals" campaign, featuring New York-based celebrities suggesting favorite itineraries.
The signs and greeters surrounding visitors before and after they go through Customs are meant to counteract any negative first impressions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:
"Tourists complain that U.S. immigration officials are rude and disrespectful, and they don't think that's a good way to start a vacation," Bloomberg said. "This is another one of those things that is diminishing our competitive edge." Travel industry advocates say the U.S. should be working harder to maintain an industry that brought $107.9 billion into the country in 2006 -- essentially making services to travelers one of the nation's major exports.
Last year's U.S. travel income was the highest ever, according to the Commerce Department. But industry group Discover America Partnership warns that the while number of travelers around the world is rising, the number of U.S. visitors from countries other than Canada and Mexico fell 17 percent from 2000 to 2006. That drop, they say, is partly due to perceived difficulties faced by travelers to the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Despite Haensel's fears of difficulty entering the country, "actually it was fine in the end," she said. And of the handful of visitors leaving a JFK exit at the same time as Haensel, none said they had had a bad run-in with officials. "It's a perception issue," said Kelly Klundt, spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. "It's very easy for the negative stories to get, No. 1, blown out of proportion and, No. 2, to spread far and wide."
The airport welcoming effort by NYC & Company -- the city's tourism office -- echoes changes promised in federal legislation signed this month. The "model ports" measure, which had been pushed heavily by Discover America Partnership, aims to offer assistance to foreign visitors on arrival and reduce their waiting times. The changes are to be instituted at the 20 U.S. airports that receive the most international arrivals.
The industry group also is lobbying for a proposed national tourism office that would promote the U.S. as a destination. Klundt says Customs and Border Protection supports the measures to improve information for travelers and reduce their waits. The agency has developed an informational video for travelers to watch while they wait to see a customs agent, she said.
However, traveler relations is not the agency's main mission, Klundt said. "We are a law enforcement agency first and foremost," she said. "We want to be welcoming, but our role is to find the needle in the haystack and to find the one person who means to do us harm."Jonathan Tisch, chairman of NYC & Company and a founder of Discover America Partnership, said both efforts can be priorities. "We understand that we need secure borders, but we also need open doors," he said.
Μετά την τρομοκρατική επίθεση της 11ης Σεπτεμβρίου 2001 στους Δίδυμους Πύργους στη Νέα Υόρκη η τουριστική κίνηση στην πόλη είχε σημειώσει μείωση. Τα μέτρα ασφαλείας είχαν ενταθεί και όπως ήταν φυσικό : «Λόγω των μέτρων ασφαλείας, ο καθένας φοβάται όταν ταξιδέψει στη Νέα Υόρκη».
Η Νέα Υόρκη ξεκίνησε την προσπάθεια προώθησης του τουριστικού της προϊόντος από τον περασμένο Σεπτέμβριο. Η Νέα Υόρκη είναι από τα λίγα αμερικανικά αστικά κέντρα που δεν έχουν μειωθεί οι ξένοι επισκέπτες του μεταξύ του 2000 και 2006. Οι υπεύθυνοι αξιωματούχοι του τουρισμού της πόλης θέλουν να βεβαιωθούν ότι η πόλη θα συνεχίσει να προσελκύει τουρίστες.
Οι άνθρωποι του κλάδου της τουριστικής βιομηχανίας υποστηρίζουν ότι η χώρα θα πρέπει να εργαστεί σκληρότερα, για να διατηρηθεί μια βιομηχανία η οποία έφερε στη χώρα $107.9 δισεκατομμύρια δολάρια το 2006 – που βασικά έκανε τις ταξιδιωτικές υπηρεσίες σε εθνικό επίπεδο έναν από τους μεγαλύτερους εξαγωγείς της χώρας.