U.S. Travel says the VWP is an important tool for U.S. public diplomacy, exposing far more international visitors to the attractions and values of America's heartland. Studies have shown that foreign nationals who visit the U.S. return home with a far more positive view of our nation and its policies.

Expanding the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) would bring increased economic opportunity to and improve national security in the United States while advancing U.S. public diplomacy around the world, said Roger J. Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

“International travel is vital to the United States, as it provides important opportunities to improve economic competitiveness, strengthen national security and advance public diplomacy...India is a dynamic, burgeoning travel market, and we look forward to continuing to build relationships.."

When the first Americans to participate in people-to-people exchanges with Cuba in 7½ years leave Miami on a Marazul charter Thursday afternoon, the central Virginia couple will be aboard. They want to meet the people who go with the music and cigars, said Liane Young.

The U.S. Travel Associationn, the trade group for the country's travel industry, unveiled a plan Thursday to help get more international travelers to visit the U.S. The association's plan calls on the federal government to overhaul the process to approve visas for foreign visitors.

Now, I don’t need to tell this audience that we know what the benefits are of these Open Skies agreements. They not only allow us to cross great distances, which I have been doing a lot of recently, but also to open up markets, create jobs, allow people in far -removed countries to interact, share information, and build businesses together.

Citing an opportunity to advance our national security, economic competitiveness and public diplomacy, the U.S. Travel Association has urged President Obama to discuss prospects for including Brazil and Chile in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) when he visits South America this month.

The ugly American — the stereotypically brutish, ethnocentric, bumbling traveler abroad — is dead. He's gone the way of global U.S. hegemony, the strong dollar and mid-20th century American naivete.