Some of the individuals responsible for deciding the strategies that will help lead the U.S. tourism industry back to post-pandemic strength took the stage at IPW 2022 in Orlando on June 7. IPW is the premier international travel marketplace in America and the largest generator of travel to the USA.
For instance, Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, told IPW delegates that Brand USA has been laser focused on developing and implementing a comprehensive approach to rebuild traveler confidence, stimulate demand and welcome the world back to the USA.
Brand USA’s strategic framework continues to serve as the starting point to help steer the industry from pandemic to endemic to recovery, said Thompson. “The path ahead will require a collective effort and a renewed focus and support for the travel and tourism industry,” he said.
Thompson referred to the release of the new U.S. Travel and Tourism Strategy, saying that Brand USA will strive to welcome 90 million visitors, with an estimated spending of US$279 billion annually, by 2027.
The strategy will promote the USA as a premium travel destination, facilitate safe and efficient travel to and within the States, ensure diverse and accessible tourism experiences, and foster sustainable travel with goals to reduce climate change factors by the industry.
“The USA – those three letters – are probably one of the most powerful brands in the world,” said Thompson. “As the nation’s DMO, we are taking the equity of that brand and sharing it with the world through our United Stories campaign.”
Nearly 4,800 attendees from more than 60 countries have gathered in Orlando from June 4 to 8 for the 53rd annual IPW. The conference and trade market has drawn U.S. hotels, attractions, cruise lines, airlines, transportation companies and DMOs (destination managers) to meet with international tour operators, product buyers and media from around the world. They have assembled under the roof of the Orange County Convention Center for 77,000 scheduled business appointments over three days.
Despite the challenges facing the travel industry to achieve recovery, the U.S. Travel Association has posted an optimistic forecast for international travel to the U.S. It projects 65 million international arrivals in 2023 (82% of pre-pandemic levels). The forecast predicts that international arrivals and spending will fully recover to 2019 levels by 2025. Also, the U.S. could gain an additional 5.4 million visitors and US$9 billion in spending by the end of 2022 – if the pre-departure testing requirements are removed.
In a June 7 press conference, U.S. Travel Association president Roger Dow highlighted barriers that continue to hamper inbound tourism commerce. These include the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound vaccinated air travelers to the U.S. – despite the decision by over 40 nations to drop a similar requirement – as well as excessive interview wait times for visitor visas.
Nonetheless, strong attendance at the 2022 IPW signals a desire to resume robust inbound travel to the United States, said the association.
“This IPW is sending a message that the U.S. is open for business and eager to welcome travelers from around the world,” said Dow. “We are taking a huge step forward here to bring back international travel, restore jobs and re-establish the bonds that connect our countries and cultures.”
This marks the final IPW led by U.S. Travel’s Dow, who had earlier announced he would step down this summer, following a 17-year tenure as president and CEO of the association.
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Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, at the speaker podium during IPW in Orlando.