We were pleased to see a report from the State Department last week noting that applicants for U.S. visas in Brazil no longer have to wait 100 days for the required in-person interview. According to the department, wait times now average two weeks or less in Brasilia, Recife and Rio de Janeiro and less than 30 days in Sao Paulo.

As we suspected all along, it wasn't rocket science. The department said the improvement came from "adding staff, extending interview hours and expanding facilities."

In January, the U.S. processed more than 86,000 visa applications in Brazil, a 60% increase over January 2011. Given that the average Brazilian visitor spends nearly $5,000 here, we're inclined to say that whatever the U.S. spent for the additional staff and expanded facilities, it looks like a case of our tax dollars being put to good use.

If these are the first fruits of the Obama administration's plan to promote tourism as a way to boost employment and service exports, we await a bountiful harvest.

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