National Travel and Tourism Strategy Outlined
5/10/2012 | Hotel Ruminating
The national travel and tourism strategy outlined by members of the Obama Administration today sets quite a lofty goal. During a White House call this morning, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told reporters from around the country that the strategy has an “ambitious goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually to the United States by the end of 2021.”
“In this national strategy, we believe we can reach this goal and generate an estimated $250 billion in international visitor spending by 2021,” Sperling said. “This national strategy and other efforts underway under President Obama’s administration to support the travel and tourism industries are extremely important to the President.”
Sterling said that there is a substantial component of U.S. GDP and employment that evolves from the travel and tourism industry. Last year, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion and supported 7.6 million jobs, an increase of 8 percent of international and domestic tourism spending.
“It’s clearer than ever that more travel and tourism within and to America simply means more good American jobs,” added Secretary Bryson.
Bryson said the mission is to make the United States the world’s top destination. In addition to the lofty goals put forth, Bryson said, “We will also encourage Americans to travel more within the U.S. and its territories to see all that our country has to offer.”
To attract the international visitors, Bryson outlines several key strategies. “First, the Federal government will broadly promote tourism through efforts such as our public-private partnership that we call ‘Brand USA.’ We are going to streamline the process through technology, staffing, and infrastructure,” he said. “The State Department is working to meet visa demand building on the fact that they have already processed more than 1 million more applications in the past year than the year before.”
He said that number included more than 1 million applications from China and more than 800,000 from Brazil. The Department of Homeland Security also enrolled nearly 1 million people in the Trusted Traveler Program. “This will ease wait times by easing entry for trusted traveler participants, and it allows Customs and Border patrols to make better staffing decision,” Bryson said.
Another strategy is to expand the number of open-sky agreements to allow the private sector to make decisions about where to fly. In addition, the government will work with the industry to analyze data to improve informed decision-making by both the public and private sectors. The efforts will be implemented by a strong tourism policy at the Commerce Department. “It’s not just a question of putting out a strategy but moving to intensify the execution of that strategy,” Bryson said.
“We want the world to note that America is open for business,” added Secretary Salazar. “The nation’s economy continues to gain strength. Tourism holds the promise of being a great economic driver for the country. The more folks we get to America, the more Americans we get back to work.”
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, joined the administration members at today’s announcement. Later he issued a statement saying, “Today's announcement couldn't come at a better time. This week marks the 29th annual National Travel and Tourism Week—a week when local communities across the country are coming together in support of the travel industry and the millions of hardworking men and women it employs. As the National Strategy is implemented and the U.S. sees an increase in the amount of international visitors, those local communities will experience more jobs, economic growth and additional revenue."
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