Voices of Travel

ASTA praises new US tourism strategy

The National Travel and Tourism Strategy — a newly announced initiative to stimulate domestic and international travel in order to create jobs and help rebuild the US economy — is being praised by ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar for its “strong and decisive steps in making the United States the world’s top global tourism destination.”Gonchar was a participant in a high-level government-industry meeting May 10 at which the Strategy was presented by U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar just before its public release. “We commend President Obama and Secretaries Bryson and Salazar for their understanding of the tremendous importance of travel and tourism to the country as a job creator and economic driver,”said Gonchar. “Significantly, the Strategy acknowledges the role travel agents play in the industry, including that of driving international visitors to the United States.”ASTA is pleased to see the Strategy’s focus on risk-based approaches to airline passenger screening, such as expanding the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre-Check to additional airlines, airports, and populations of known travellers. ASTA particularly commends the Strategy’s pledge to support small business in travel and tourism, given that 98% of ASTA members are small businesses. The Society is also pleased to hear the White House’s promise to work more closely with private-sector entities and trade associations in policy development, as well as the establishment of a national travel and tourism policy office within the Department of Commerce. According to a statement issued by the White House, international spending on US travel and tourism-related goods and services set a record of US$153 billion in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million industry jobs. In February of this year, more than 4.2 million international visitors travelled to the United States, up 9% from the same time the previous year, and the 11th straight month of increases in total US visits. The Strategy states as its goal to increase American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who are expected to spend US$250 billion annually by the end of 2021.

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