The Administration clearly recognizes the importance of travel and tourism in restoring the health of the American economy by providing jobs, ASTA's Senior Vice President of Legal and Industry Affairs Paul Ruden commented after attending the first American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Travel and Tourism, under the auspices of the White House Business Council. More than 40 industry leaders attended as well as government officials.
"We were happy to learn of the huge strides reported as having been made in reducing U.S. visa waiting times in countries like Brazil and China,” said Ruden. “Many ideas were exchanged with private sector attendees for additions to the government and private sector agendas designed to stimulate foreign travel to the United States and continue the progress in facilitation of foreign visitor travel experiences.”
Also participating was ASTA member Olga Ramudo, owner of Express Travel in Miami and a member of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for the Department of Commerce. ASTA contributed its comments on the new National Travel and Tourism Strategy and the role travel agents play in the industry, including that of driving international visitors to the United States.
Among the participants were: Mark Doms, chief economist, U.S. Department of Commerce; Todd Davidson (CEO of Travel Oregon) for the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; Tom Nides, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of State; Douglas Smith, assistant secretary for the private sector, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior.
The group also heard from Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council in the White House and Ari Matusiak, executive director of the White House Business Council.