Fareed Zakaria has an very important and interesting essay in the November 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine entitled "America the Unwelcoming". He points out the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave, is the only country in the world where tourism has declined the last few years in spite of tourism growing in other countries around the world. Why you might ask? Because under the Bush administration America has become inhospitable to people from around the world. Here is snippet from Zakaria's essay:
Every American who has a friend abroad has heard some story about the absurd hassle and humiliation of entering or exiting the United States. But these pale in comparison to the experience of foreigners who commit minor infractions. A tourist from New Zealand, Rick Giles, mistakenly overstayed his visa in America by a few days and found himself summarily arrested for six weeks earlier this fall. Treaty obligations say his country's embassy should have been informed of the arrest, but it wasn't. A German visitor, Valeria Vinnikova, overstayed her visa by a couple of days and tried to remedy the situation—so that she could spend more time with her fiancé, the Dartmouth College squash coach. Instead she was handcuffed and had her feet shackled, then was carted off to be imprisoned. She now faces deportation and a 10-year ban on entering the United States. (Thanks to AndrewSullivan.com for drawing attention to these.)
According to the Commerce Department, the United States is the only major country in the world to which travel has declined in the midst of a global tourism boom. And this is not about Arabs or Muslims. The number of Japanese visiting the United States declined from 5 million in 2000 to 3.6 million last year. The numbers have begun to increase, but by 2010 they're still projected to be 19 percent below 2000 levels. During this same span (2000–2010), global tourism is expected to grow by 44 percent.
Why does the world hate us? It is not because they are jealous of our freedom and democracy as President Bush states. It's more because we have turned our fear of foreign terrorist attack into draconian tyrannical behavior which way overreacts to a realistic assessment of any risk and threat.
As Americans have lost civil liberties as a cost of the so called war on terror, and as we have treated our fellow human beings in such disrespectful and hurtful ways, it seems that the terrorists indeed have won. Our president's suggestion that Americans deal with their fears by shopping and treating immigrants and visitors as criminals is woefully inadequate and we are becoming a people who other people don't like, don't want to associate with, and we are becoming a sick and neurotic nation whose defensive and paranoid stance leads to hurtful, unjust, and disordered behavior of which we cannot be proud.
The lowering of America's reputation in the world, and the dropping of the number of tourists and what it means for the United States should be a major campaign issue in 2008 and hopefully the new President will improve the U.S.'s reputation abroad and the civility of our behavior towards ourselves and our guests.
I recommend the whole essay to you which you can read by clicking on the link below.