Each summer, seasonal tourist communities around the United States host international exchange participants on the BridgeUSA Summer Work Travel (SWT) and Camp Counselor programs.
In 2019, 108,303 SWT program participants experienced American life, customs and culture first-hand. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related hiatus, significantly fewer participants were able to arrive in 2020 and 2021 (4,952 and 39,647 respectively), which negatively impacted seasonal economies and the public diplomacy goals of the United States.
To gather data on how the reduced number of J-1 Visa Exchange Visitors has impacted American seasonal businesses and camps, InterExchange’s Advocacy Team led the effort in creating and launching the sponsor-wide SWT and Camp Counselor host impact survey.
We are happy to share the survey findings with our community.
- 665 host employers and camps for the Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor programs took the 2021 economic impact survey which was launched on September 13, 2021, in collaboration with the Alliance for International Educational Exchange.
- According to survey results, in 2021, 20% of seasonal positions were left unfilled and 60% of businesses lost revenue due to the seasonal staffing shortage. Managers, owners and staff were left exhausted and burned out while 82% of businesses reported lower quality of customer service and long customer wait times.
- In addition, 95% of businesses agree that BridgeUSA programs enable their U.S. based staff to gain a better understanding of other cultures and participants also return home with a better understanding of the U.S.
“We create life-long relationships with participants and their families, which drives business and visitation to the U.S., as well as gives a face to America when they are making decisions back in their own countries in the future.” —Ski Resort in California