US puts national tourism strategy in place

The Obama Administration has delivered on its promise of a National Tourism and Travel Strategy designed to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States. US commerce secretary, John Bryson and interior secretary, Ken Salazar unveiled the new blueprint for the country’s tourism strategy in Washington, D.C yesterday. The national strategy lays out steps to be taken in five key areas and sets a goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021 — over a 50% increase over the number expected this year. Estimates suggest that those new international visitors would spend an $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country. “Tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America every year. They stay in our hotels, they eat at our restaurants, they visit our attractions, and they help create jobs. At a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, we need to make it easier for more people to visit this country and keep our economy growing,” said President Barack Obama. Secretary Bryson observed that, “This Administration will continue to do everything we can to support travel and tourism — our number one services export — which will help support millions of American jobs.” And Bryson added, “I am proud of our work on the National Strategy, a product of a strong private-public partnership, which will make the U.S. even more welcoming to visitors and reinforce our message to the world: the United States is open for business.” Secretary Salazar said that, “As our nation’s economy continues to gain strength, tourism – especially international tourism – holds the promise of being an economic engine for the country. These recommendations will help make the United States a more attractive travel destination for people around the globe, and I look forward to working with our partners across government and industry to turn this strategy into action.” In 2011, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion from domestic and international travel and supported 7.6 million jobs — with international travel to the United States resulting in a record $153 billion in receipts and supporting 1.2 million jobs. Recently, the Commerce Department released a travel and tourism forecast projecting that the US can expect 4% to 5% average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, and that 65.4 million foreign travellers are projected to visit the US in 2012 alone. In January 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order and announced new administrative initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States. President Obama charged Secretaries Bryson and Salazar with leading a Task Force for Travel and Competitiveness to create the National Strategy. The newly released plan for tourism reflects input from local government and business leaders, including the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), as well as ongoing initiatives throughout the Federal government, to ensure that the government leverages all of our national assets and resources to fully support the travel and tourism industry.