US initiates national tourism strategy

In a first for the US, President Barack Obama has announced a national strategy on travel and tourism to boost travel in the United States. The US travel industry is a cornerstone of the US economy, representing $1.8 trillion in economic output and supporting 14 million American jobs. “The steps the president took today are significant and will boost travel to and within the United States. Most importantly, they will lead to new American jobs and get our economy moving,”said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “His timing could not be better. Travel is an essential industry for our nation and a bipartisan issue that can unite our country and rally us forward.”According to a White House statement, the announcement calls for a national strategy to make the United States the world’s top travel and tourism destination, as part of a comprehensive effort to spur job creation. The number of travellers from emerging economies with growing middle classes — such as China, Brazil and India — is projected to grow by 135%, 274% and 50%, respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010. Obama will also sign an Executive Order and charge several government agencies to take part in efforts and new initiatives to significantly increase travel. Some of the initiatives include: a new pilot program and rule change for visa processing in China and Brazil, a final rule to expand and make the Global Entry program permanent, appoint new members to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and the Nomination of Taiwan to the Visa Waiver Program. “This is the first time our country has had a national strategy and set goals for the amount of visitors we want to welcome to our country. Not only will this increase traffic to America’s wonderful destinations and attractions, but nearly half of the travellers will come to attend conferences and tradeshows,”added Dow. “The president has put forward his vision and the travel industry is ready to heed the call.”Brand USA has also applauded Obama’s initiative. “We commend the administration’s new efforts, which correspond directly with the mandate of Brand USA, which is to promote travel to the United States, thereby increasing US export revenues and creating new American jobs,”said Brand USA chairman and CEO of Diamond Resorts International, Stephen J. Cloobeck. “Travel and tourism, which has long been the United States’ number one service sector export, has the potential to be the jobs creator and economic powerhouse that sets the United States on a path of economic recovery. Encouraging more visitors to come to the United States to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and explore this great country, will deliver a much needed economic boost while strengthening US relations around the world.”(