U.S. Urged to Setout Welcome Mat; Travel Industry Sees Tourism as Way to Win Foreign Good Will

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Attention, America-haters: Eat, drink, be merry and maybe stay overnight and ride a roller coaster.

A little Yankee hospitality is the best remedy for the nation's "image crisis," says a consortium of travel mavens and theme-park owners who will take their case to Capitol Hill today for a press conference. Joining them will be Reps. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, and Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts Democrat.

The goal is to lure 10 million new international visitors to these shores and "empower the American people as our greatest ambassadors," according to the Discover America Partnership, a District-based group that based it goals on some of the conclusions from the 2006 Pew Global Attitude Project.

The annual survey of world opinion revealed in June that "America's global image has again slipped," with U.S. approval falling in 15 countries down to 23 percent in Spain and 37 percent in Germany, for example.

There may be something to the idea that apple pie and swell scenery could soothe anti-Americanism among the vacationing hordes, though.

"Our 2002 polls found that people from other countries who have traveled here firsthand had a better opinion of America after their experiences," said Richard Wike, senior director for the Pew project.

Global Market Insite, a Seattle-based research group, also found last year that approval ratings of Americans were as high as 72 percent among foreigners who visited the U. …