U.S. wants Poles to visit, spend lots of money

/ Source: The Associated Press

Time to shop until you drop across the Atlantic, the U.S. embassy says. In an unusual appeal, the United States is enticing Poles to visit and spend money this summer in hopes of propping up its faltering economy. The campaign comes as the Polish currency hit a historic high — reaching 2.1194 zloty to the dollar on Monday.

"When you visit the States, bring an extra suitcase so you can return to Poland with a suitcase full of new items," U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, is quoted as saying on the embassy's Web site.

The invitation is a sea change in bilateral relations. For most of the 20th century, impoverished Poles traveled to the United States in search of any possible job. Now they are being seen as a source of increased revenue.

The idea was a Warsaw initiative, said embassy spokesman Chris Snipes. He was not sure whether similar promotions had been undertaken by other U.S. embassies around the world.

While inviting Polish tourists, the embassy makes no mention of easing U.S. visa requirements for Poles. Warsaw, a staunch U.S. ally, has been demanding for years that the visa requirement be ended, along with the $100 fee for the lengthy procedure.

The embassy did note that the average waiting time for a visa was down to two days.

"The zloty is particularly strong and it's a good time to travel to the States," Snipes said.