The National Travel and Tourism Strategy - the newly announced initiative to stimulate domestic and international travel to create jobs and help rebuild the U.S. economy - was praised by ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar for its "strong and decisive steps" in making the United States the world’s top global tourism destination.
ASTA praised the policy's support for travel agents as drivers of international travel and support for small business in travel and tourism.
In a statement, ASTA noted that Gonchar was a participant in a high-level government-industry meeting yesterday morning at which the Strategy was presented by U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar just before its public release.
“We commend President Obama and Secretaries Bryson and Salazar for their understanding of the tremendous importance of travel and tourism to the country as a job creator and economic driver. Significantly, the Strategy acknowledges the role travel agents play in the industry, including that of driving international visitors to the United States,” said Gonchar.
"ASTA is pleased to see the Strategy’s focus on risk-based approaches to airline passenger screening, such as expanding the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre-Check to additional airlines, airports and populations of known travelers. ASTA particularly commends the Strategy’s pledge to support small business in travel and tourism, given that 98 percent of ASTA members are small businesses. The Society is also pleased to hear the White House’s promise to work more closely with private-sector entities and trade associations in policy development, as well as the establishment of a national travel and tourism policy office within the Department of Commerce."
ASTA cited a White House paper that international spending on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services set a record of $153 billion in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million industry jobs. In February of this year, more than 4.2 million international visitors traveled to the United States, up nine percent from the same time the previous year, and the 11th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits. The Strategy states as its goal to increase American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who are expected to spend $250 billion annually by the end of 2021, ASTA noted.
ASTA said it was an active participant in stakeholder meetings at which the National Travel and Tourism Strategy was developed and submitted formal comments in February to the International Trade Administration’s Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, the lead authors of the strategy, which in turn shared its recommendations directly with President Obama.
ASTA noted it also had co-signed comments submitted by the U.S. Travel Association and the Interactive Travel Services Association, in support of steps to increase the United States’ tourism market share worldwide and create business opportunities for travel agents.