As the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, I had the distinct pleasure today of briefing leaders from the travel and tourism industry on the strides we and our partners have made in transforming how we facilitate travel by legitimate visitors to the United States, while maintaining the highest standards of border security. My remarks were part of a half-day Strategic Dialogue on International Travel to review the progress we have made in meeting and exceeding the President's travel and tourism goals.
You see, our consular officers in 222 visa issuing posts around the world have always understood that they are often the first and only interaction a foreigner will have with a U.S citizen. The visa process protects our borders, but it is also an integral part of our public face beyond those borders. This is why we are working harder than ever to make that process straightforward, clear, and as applicant-focused as possible, without compromising security.
Worldwide, we have boosted our visa interviewing capacity and in key markets like China and Brazil have absorbed increases in demand of more than 37 percent. At the same time as demand has risen, we have driven down wait times for visa interview appointments so that worldwide, almost 90 percent of applicants get their appointment within three weeks. In China and Brazil that wait is just five days and two days respectively. And guess what? This year our consular operations in China and Brazil processed more than one million visa applications each, and just last week, Mission Mexico processed its two millionth visa application.
So why does this matter for the United States? Well, all this hard work is allowing millions more foreign visitors than ever to come to the United States. Travel and tourism represent our largest service export. Our work supports the legitimate travel of qualified applicants who create jobs. In addition, more frequent travel to the United States means increased investment and stronger bilateral ties on the basis of mutually beneficial cooperation.
We have made great progress, but we're not done yet. We will continue to work with our partners in the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to develop a long-term strategy to address future challenges in managing visa workload. And we look forward to the continued support and collaboration of the travel and tourism industry partners we met with today as we move into the future.
As we move forward, border security will remain job number one. It will always be our highest priority. The visa function exists to protect citizens, residents, and visitors alike from those who would do us harm. As we remain vigiliant, we will also remain creative, committed, and forward-looking, seeking new efficiencies and new approaches to the work that we do.