'Lost Decade' in Overseas Travel to U.S. Cost $500 Billion

The decline in overseas travel to the U.S. since 2000 has cost America 440,000 jobs and more than $500 billion in total travel-related spending, a new report by the U.S. Travel Association, in conjunction with Oxford Economics, reveals.

The new report, focused on the “Lost Decade” in overseas travel to the U.S., underscores U.S. Travel’s recommendation that Congress  pass bipartisan legislation— now awaiting action in the Senate— to create the first-ever promotion and communications program aimed at attracting international travelers to the U.S.

According to analysis of international travel figures, the failure of the United States to simply keep pace with the growth in international long-haul travel worldwide has cost the economy:

*    68.3 million lost visitors, each of whom on average spend well over $4,000 dollars.
*    $509 billion in lost spending, including $214 billion in direct spending and $295 billion in downstream spending at restaurants, retailers and scores of other small businesses.
*    441,000 lost jobs, direct and indirect, in all regions of the country.
*    $32 billion in lost tax revenue at the federal, state and local levels.
*    $270 billion in lost trade surplus, as international travel to the U.S. is our largest service export.

"While international travel has been an oasis of opportunity, we're still lost in the desert," said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel's president and CEO. "We can't afford another lost decade when we're looking for ways to kick-start the economy and create jobs. If not now, when?"

According to Dow, the U.S. welcomed a projected 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors in 2009 than in 2000. This contrasts with the growth in international travel over the decade, which resulted in 46.3 million more international travelers taking long-haul trips in 2009 than in 2000.

The projected 2009 results show 23.5 million visitors to the U.S. from overseas, a decline of 7.1 percent compared with the 25.3 million who visited in 2008. U.S. Travel's projections are based on figures reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce through November. The department's final figures for 2009 are expected to be released soon, U.S. Travel reports.

In calling for prompt action on the Travel Promotion Act, Dow cited a recent study showing the widespread benefits of sending a welcoming message around the world. Oxford Economics found that the impact of a well-executed, fee-funded promotion program of $200 million will attract 1.6 million new visitors each year, add $4 billion to the U.S. economy annually, produce $320 million per year in new federal tax revenues and create approximately 40,000 new U.S. jobs.

According to U.S. Travel the Congressional Budget Office reports that the bill will reduce the deficit by $425 million and increase revenues by $135 million over the next 10 years.

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