The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), today continued its "where the jobs are" hearing series with a focus on American tourism, a bright spot in our nation's economy. Tourism in the United States is a multibillion-dollar industry that supports nearly 8 million American jobs. Today's hearing examined employment trends in tourism and discussed ways to promote growth of this important sector of our economy.
"Today, more money is spent on tourism in the U.S. than in any other country around the world. So how do we sustain that growth and create even more American jobs?" asked Bono Mack.
International travel remains an important source of trade and income for American businesses. While the number of international visitors to the U.S. has increased over the past decade, the U.S. share of all international travelers has fallen. By increasing the U.S. share of international travelers, the United States can increase exports, reduce trade imbalance, and create much-needed American jobs.
Earlier this year, President Obama issued an Executive Order creating the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness. The Task Force set a goal of attracting 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021. Today's hearing discussed ways to achieve this goal and examined the Task Force's recently released National Travel and Tourism Strategy.
"Implementation of the National Strategy will encourage travelers to choose America as the
world's premier tourism destination. It will better facilitate entering into and traveling across the United States and foster greater cooperation with the private sector, which will enable us to create a world-class U.S. travel experience that will encourage visitors to extend their stays and return to see more," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nicole Lamb-Hale.
Members and witnesses also discussed the role of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, known as Brand USA, a public-private corporation established by Congress in the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. Brand USA recently launched a global marketing campaign to promote travel to the United States.
"It's important to note that the overall objectives of the global campaign are to promote the United States in its entirety and inspire travelers to see the United States as if for the first time. To that end, the campaign presents the vast range of experiences that the USA offers--with a special focus on what is new, unknown, or unexpected," said James Evans, CEO of Brand USA. "This approach will allow us to maximize the social and economic benefits of travel to communities of all sizes, including those off the beaten path--an often-overlooked part of travel promotion."
Industry representatives praised the work of Brand USA in promoting travel destinations across the country and helping America regain a larger share of the international travel market.
"Prior to the creation of Brand USA, the United States had no means of direct communication with travelers, leaving all messages about traveling to America to be filtered by the foreign media -- which never painted a pretty picture. In contrast, America's competitors were spending millions of dollars in promotion programs to attract visitors," said Geoff Freeman, COO and Executive Vice President of the U.S. Travel Association. "With the creation of Brand USA, the United States is now competing around the world for billions in visitor spending by highlighting our nation's assets."
"It is impossible with our budget and resources to share this experience with the international consumer on a broad platform and influence the traveler to stay longer or plan a return visit," said Scott White, President and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We feel the new Brand USA campaign will enable Greater Palm Springs to target new destinations and grow our economy."
"Given the importance of tourism to the U.S. economy -- and given the promise of creating tens of thousands of new American jobs -- it's OUR job to make certain that we have a sound strategy and forward-looking policies in place, which will positively promote the United States around the world, provide international travelers with a unique experience and leave them with lasting, treasured memories of their trip to the U.S.," said Bono 6