Jobs and Economic Expansion Top Policy Priorities

Tapping into the potential of the global travel market promises to generate U.S. economic growth, promote job creation and spur small business expansion, said Jonathan M. Tisch, co-chair of the board for Loews Corporation and chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels during yesterdays hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion. The hearing examined the travel industry's impact on the U.S. economy, titled, "Tourism in America: Moving Our Economy Forward." Tisch is chairman emeritus of the U.S. Travel Association.

"The process starts by establishing a national goal of reclaiming America's 17 percent share of the global travel market," Tisch said, proposing three strategic policy priorities to enhance America's competitiveness in attracting international visitors and to create economic growth. These include: continuing support for the Corporation for Travel Promotion - now known as Brand USA -established under the Travel Promotion Act; reforming America's burdensome, bureaucratic and costly visa system; and improving America's inadequate aviation infrastructure.

John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism and a member ob the U.S.Travel Association's board of directors, also testified. Edman spoke to the impact leisure and business travel has on Minnesota. Travel and tourism is an $11 billion industry in the state.

"Each year, 39 million travelers come to Minnesota for leisure and business travel," said Edman. "These visitors spend money throughout the state, at hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, car rentals and more. But these direct expenditures also generate a wide variety of secondary impacts across Minnesota. From financial services to printing, all of Minnesota benefits from travel spending."

International travel remains one of the few bright spots in the global economy, generating exports worth $1.1 trillion and supporting more than 96 million jobs worldwide in 2010. Despite the fragile economic recovery, global travel spending continues to grow at impressive rates, U.S. Travel notes.