Despite a projected decline in international travel of 8 percent by the end of 2009, the industry can anticipate a soft recovery by the end of 2010, with a forecast a 3 percent growth in international travel for that year, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said in remarks at the U.S. Travel Association’s recent International Pow Wow 2009 in Miami Beach.
“The numbers are a reminder about how difficult the current global economic climate,” Locke said. “Following 2010, we estimate 5 percent annual increases through 2013 to take us to a record 64 million international travelers experiencing America—our land, our culture and our people. These are, of course, projections. We all have to do our part to ensure the turnaround.
“Together, this (Pow Wow) audience represents the breadth of sectors that generate the impressive $1.3 trillion in sales this industry contributes to the U.S. economy," Locke continued. “ For every airplane filled with visitors, our nation offers transportation, accommodations, meals, sightseeing, entertainment, shopping and other services that have a huge, positive impact on the economy.”
Locke, the former governor of Washington state, said that, as Commerce Secretary, he was pleased to note that travel and tourism is responsible for over one-fourth of all services exports for the U.S. “In 2008, your efforts helped to bring a record 58 million international travelers to America," he said. "This generated over $140 billion in receipts, and it supported nearly 1 million jobs. And for the 20th consecutive year, travel and tourism produced a travel trade surplus for the U.S.—a record $29.7 billion.”
Locke said the Commerce Department was committed to working with the industry. And he noted that on June 9, he will be meeting with the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to discuss how government and industry can work together to make it easier for international travelers to visit America.
Locke also said that this fall he will convene the Tourism Policy Council to expand interagency communications and collaboration on policies that directly impact the travel industry. “As chair of the Council—which comprises more than 15 members from eight government departments, including State, Homeland Security, and Interior—I will ensure that the government considers industry’s interests fully in deliberating policy changes,” he said.
The secretary also said the Commerce Department also will maintain support for the DiscoverAmerica.com website to assist international travelers and U.S. industry marketing efforts. “At the Commerce Department, we are committed to removing barriers to the growth of tourism exports," Locke said. "Through our commercial service and office of travel and tourism industries, we will help industry businesses and destinations to market and sell their products. And, we will continue to work with you to deliver the much needed statistics on visitors to this country and industry analyses on which you base many of your marketing and business decisions."