Tourism Visa Immigration

Tourism / Visa / Customs / Immigration


Ride the Wave: A Year in Review FY21/22, Visit California’s Annual Report
Visit California, August 2022

Tourism Report: Economic Impact of Travel in California 2011-2020
Visit California, May 2021

The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses
Oxford Economics, March 16, 2020

Reducing the Trade Deficit By Growing International Travel
U.S., February 2020

International Tourism Growth Continues to Outpace The Global Economy
UN World Tourism Organization, January 20, 2020

Tourism Sector Up: Visitors Spend Record $140 Billion on Travel in California
CalChamber, November 19, 2019 from Visit California’s May 2019 Report 

Report: Economic Impact of Travel in California 2010-2018
Visit California, May 2019

  • Direct travel-related spending in California totaled $140.6 billion in 2018, a 5.4 percent increase from the previous year.
  • Direct travel-generated employment neared 1.2 million, a 1.7 percent increase over 2017.
  • Travel-generated tax revenue topped $11.8 billion.
  • Room demand increased by 2.0 percent.
  • Visitor arrivals on domestic flights increased by 7.3 percent.
  • $6 out of $10 spent at local visitor destinations were attributable to residents of other states and countries.
  • The GDP of the California travel industry was $79 billion in 2018, which represents about 2.5 percent of the total GDP of the state.

U.S. Department of Commerce Arrivals Data Reports Record-Setting Spending By International Visitors  September 12, 2018

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) has resumed publishing international visitation and spending data and today announced that the United States welcomed more than 76.9 million international visitors into the country in 2017, who collectively spent a record-setting $251.4 billion experiencing the United States, an increase of 2 percent over 2016. “International travelers continue to set spending records visiting the United States, and I expect that trend to continue in 2018 spawning further job growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The American tourism industry, which generated a trade surplus of more than $77.4 billion last year, continues to help drive our economy to new heights.”

CalChamber’s Tourism Information

Visit California’s 2017 Travel Impact ReportMay, 2018
In 2017, the tourism industry in California injected $132.4 billion into the state’s economy, a 4.8% increase form 2016. In 2017, 6 out of every 10 dollars spent at California visitor destinations were attributable to residents of other states or countries. In 2017, the tourism industry supported more than 1.1 million jobs and provided $49.6 billion in employee earnings. Visitor spending is a leading revenue source for California, generating $10.9 billion in local and state tax revenue in 2017, a 2.8% increase. In 23 counties, travel spending is responsible for more than 10% of all taxable sales.

Travel: America’s Unsung Hero of Job Creation August 28, 2017
Travel is fundamental to the American way of life; Americans took 2.2 billion person trips in 2016. Travel is equally essential to the American economy and an indispensable source for job creation. Travelers spent $990 billion in 2016, of which 16 percent was spent by international visitors. This spending directly supported 8.6 million jobs in the travel industry and a total of 15.3 million jobs in all sectors across America.

California Travel Impacts by County, 1992-2016
Visit California, May 2017

“Ready for Takeoff”
U.S. Travel Association 2011 Report.


Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
U.S. Department of Commerce

International Travel Information
U.S. Department of State

Discover America Partnership (DAP)
The CalChamber is a member of DAP, a diverse coalition of industries and associations whose work depends on safe and efficient inbound international travel. The DAP is a lobbying and grassroots campaign to advance visa and entry reforms to enable the United States to regain our historical share of the booming world travel market.

Visit California

Fall 2016 – The Homeland Security Department is preparing to require additional online security information from Chinese ten-year visa holders.
New Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS)

U.S. Chamber President Calls Launch of Travel Coalition Important Step Toward Visa and Entry Reforms
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, May 11, 2011

Federal Legislation:

“Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014”

The “Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014” would strengthen the United States’ position in the global travel and tourism market by reauthorizing Brand USA, a vital public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the U.S. and at no cost to taxpayers. Since it began operations in 2011, Brand USA has been a successful driver of increased travel and tourism to the U.S., supporting millions of jobs and creating economic growth. In fact, Brand USA’s activities resulted in a $7.4 billion impact on the U.S. economy in fiscal year 2013 according to an Oxford Economics study.

H.R. 4450 – Bilirakis, Representative (R-FL) , Welch, Representative (D-VT) – Introduced April 10, 2014
S. 2250 – Klobuchar, Senator (Democratic Farmer Labor-MN), Blunt, Senator (R-MO)

The Jobs Originated through Launching Travel – JOLT Act addresses key barriers in the visa processing system that deter international business and leisure travel. The House JOLT Act (H.R. 1354) currently has more than 125 cosponsors bipartisan co-sponsors. In a joint February 17, 2014 op-ed piece, the bill’s lead sponsors stressed that bipartisan collaboration on the JOLT Act could yield what everyone says they want: significant U.S. job growth.

Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel Act (JOLT Act) Summary
U.S. Chamber, March 2012

U.S. Chamber Testifies on Job Creating Potential of Travel and Tourism
U.S. Chamber, Mar 27, 2012

On May 29, 2012, the U.S. Chamber sent a letter to the Senate in support of S. 3199, the “Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2012.”

On May 29, 2012, the U.S. Chamber sent a letter to the House in support of H.R. 5741, the “Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2012.”


Visa Waiver Program

One of the JOLT Act’s key economic and national security objectives is to expand the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program currently allows business and leisure travelers from 38 partnering countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a non-immigrant visitor visa. An enhanced Visa Waiver Program would provide necessary updates to the program while also allowing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to designate additional program countries.

United States Begins Implementation of Changes to the Visa Waiver Program
Joint Statement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. State Department, January 21, 2016

How the Visa Waiver Program is Keeping America Safe
Steptoe & Johnson LLP, November 2014

FACT SHEET: Supporting American Job Growth And Strengthening Ties By Extending U.S./China Visa Validity
White House, November 10, 2014

Business Leaders Tout Economic Benefits of Passing JOLT Act
Discover America Partnership, June 12, 2014

Chile joins the Visa Waiver Program

On February 28, 2014, Chile became the 38th nation to join the Visa Waiver Program.

Chile is an important partner with the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement implemented on January 1, 2004. According to the U.S. Travel Association, visitors from Chile to the U.S. spent more than $5,000 per trip in 2012.

DHS Announces Chile’s Designation Into the Visa Waiver Program
Department of Homeland Security, February 28, 2014

As of November 1, 2012, people from Taiwan have been able to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The entry of Taiwan into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program not only supports the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, but it strengthens the nation’s economic partnership with Taiwan by giving more opportunities for the Taiwanese and Americans to do business with one another.

Taiwan’s Entry to Visa Waiver Program Will Boost Travel and Tourism in United States
ITA Blog, November 7, 2012

Expand the Visa Waiver Program
U.S. Travel Association
Additional Information:

S. 2046 Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act
Senator Mikulski’s Press Release on the Introduction of S 2046
January 31, 2012

ECLAC Releases Study on Health Care Reform in the United States and its Effect on Medical Tourism

(posted as informational)

The study “U.S. health care reform and medical tourism opportunities”, prepared by the ECLAC Washington Office, looks at how the comprehensive health care reform legislation passed by the United States Congress in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), could have a significant effect on medical tourism. The report was undertaken within the framework of the Inter-American Development Bank/ECLAC consultancy: “Assessment of the potential effects of health reform on medical tourism”.


Council on Foreign Relations
1/26/12 Policy Innovation Memorandum
“Faster, Safer, Smarter: A Modern Visa System for the United States”


Jan. 2013
Multi-Industry Letter to Director Zients Regarding U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) Staffing at U.S. Ports of Entry



Immigration has a significant impact on California’s economy, affecting both the labor force and the movement of goods. Both documented and undocumented immigration is expected to account for almost all of the growth in the labor force. However, America’s current immigration system is broken and does not meet the needs of our citizens or businesses.

CalChamber Position

America cannot compete and win in a global economy without attracting and retaining a talented workforce of big dreamers. Immigration reform is one of the compelling challenges of our time.

Read position details in the CalChamber Business Issues Guide summary

U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 – Senate version.  House version.