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USTA: U.S. Needs Strategy for Business and Meetings IndustryJanuary 24, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
President Obama's recent announcement of a national strategy on travel and tourism will increase business, meetings and convention travel, restoring the U.S. as the premier destination for business and meetings travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
"Travelers from emerging markets like China, India and Brazil are not just traveling for leisure," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "They're traveling the world to purchase products at trade shows, attend cutting-edge conferences and expand their businesses."
"By creating a national strategy on travel and tourism that improves America's visa and entry process, we can restore the United States as the world capital for business travel and, at the same time, make U.S. companies more globally competitive." Dow said.
Business travel is a bedrock of the U.S. travel industry and a key driver of economic grout, the association said. "In 2010, domestic and international business travel within the United States generated more than $235 billion in economic spending and supported more than 2.1 million jobs. According to 2010 data from the Department of Commerce, more than 13 million (or 22 percent) of all overseas travelers to the United States came for business purposes. Among those business travelers, 2.6 million (20 percent) traveled to the United States to attend a major convention or conference."
"But during the past decade, several factors contributed to sharp declines in business travel. One factor is an inefficient U.S. visa and entry process that discourages large numbers of international business travelers from coming to the United States. For example, the Consumer Electronics Association frequently highlights the thousands of visitors lost annually due to the complexity of receiving a U.S. visa," U.S. Travel said.
Another major factor occurred in 2009 when public outrage over a meeting held by insurance giant A.I.G. led to the cancellation of thousands of meetings and events across the country. In the first half of 2009 alone, the U.S. Travel Association estimates that domestic hotels lost $1 billion in revenue from canceled meetings – due in large part to the "A.I.G Effect."
"We've come a long way since 2009 when travel for business, meetings and conventions was criticized as a boondoggle," said Dow. "The president's call for a national travel and tourism strategy is firm acknowledgement of what our industry has known all along – that business travel is the locomotive of economic recovery. As we work with the administration to craft a national strategy on travel and tourism, the industry has my commitment that business travel, of all types, will remain a central focus."