The United States needs a nationally coordinated travel promotion program to compete for overseas visitors, according to the U.S. Travel Association. These visitors, who spend an average of $4,400 per person, per trip, are essential to save U.S. jobs and kick start economic recovery, USTA says.
"As any business will tell you, tough economic times demand increased investment in attracting customers," said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, in a statement. "Congress and the Administration must act now to compete for global travel dollars and reverse the accelerating decline in U.S. visitation. Increasing travel to the United States is the most efficient form of economic stimulus."
USTA's push for Congress to implement legislation for travel promotion comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Commerce's announcement that overseas arrivals to the United States have declined. The country welcomed 25.3 million overseas visitors in 2008, representing a slight increase over 2007 yet 633,000 fewer people than it welcomed in 2000.
The U.S. Travel Association cites that if U.S. overseas arrivals had kept pace with international long-haul travel trends, the nation would have welcomed 58 million more visitors in 2008 and $182 billion in new spending. These visitors would have supported 245,000 American jobs each year.
The Travel Promotion Act (which we first mentioned in the blog post about Obama's meeting with the travel industry) was passed by the House of Representatives in 2008; the Senate companion bill received no vote. It is expected to be reintroduced to the 111th Congress in the coming weeks.