The U.S. Travel Association (formerly the Travel Industry Association) renewed its call for a nationally coordinated travel promotion program to attract millions of new visitors. The new action was in response to the Department of Commerce's announcement that 2008 overseas arrivals to the United States remained below pre-9/11 levels. The U.S. Travel association said overseas visitors to the United States spend an average of $4,000 per person, per trip and are critical to America's economic recovery.
According to new data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States welcomed 25.3 million overseas visitors in 2008. Although this represented a modest increase over 2007 overseas arrivals, the United States welcomed 633,000 fewer overseas visitors in 2008 than in 2000.
Making matters worse, there were 48 million more long-haul travelers in 2008 than in 2000. If U.S. overseas arrivals had kept pace with international long-haul travel trends from 2001-2008, America would have welcomed a cumulative total of 58 million more visitors, $182 billion in new spending and $27 billion in new tax revenue. These visitors would have supported 245,000 American jobs each year.
"Without a travel promotion program, America is leaving money on the table," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "Our nation is locked in an economic crisis to which overseas visitors hold a key. It is time for Congress to take immediate action as today's global economic crisis and America's strengthening currency will further weaken America's standing as a premier travel destination."
U.S. Travel noted that the House of Representatives passed the Travel Promotion Act in 2008. The legislation would have created a nationally coordinated promotion campaign at no cost to U.S. taxpayers. Studies show that such a campaign would attract millions of additional overseas visitors per year, resulting in billions of dollars of new visitor spending. A Senate companion bill, co-sponsored by a majority of U.S. Senators, did not receive a vote. The Travel Promotion Act is expected to be reintroduced in the 111th Congress in the coming weeks.