U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow urged the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness and Innovation, to renew Brand USA funding and said Brand USA reauthorization and JOLT Act passage would create 452,000 jobs and add $200 billion to the U.S. economy.
"Today, travel is the nation's number one industry export and is growing fast," Dow said in testimony. "The potential for further growth is enormous...If the United States could regain the 17 percent of global long-haul travel market share by 2020, we would add 49.8 million visitors, $222 billion in spending and 452,000 more jobs over that period."
"By promoting the United States as a destination and clearly explaining our security policies, Brand USA [the public-private partnership that promotes increased international travel to the United States] is helping to restore our competitive advantage in the world travel market,"Dow said.
"In four short years, Brand USA has become a powerful force for American job growth, leveraging partnerships with local travel and tourism entities in all 50 states for its global marketing campaign - all without a penny of U.S. taxpayer funds. So here's my first ask to get us to 100 million visitors: please move S. 2250 [Brand USA reauthorization] through this Committee and pass it on the Senate floor this year," Dow said.
In addition to calling upon the Senate to reauthorize Brand USA, Dow urged Congress to enact the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, elements of which passed the Senate but is still pending in the House (H.R. 1354).
Dow also called for faster passenger screening at U.S. international ports of entry, and greater investment in transportation infrastructure, including more rapid deployment of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
U.S. Travel said members of the subcommittee echoed Dow's call for legislative action to further boost tourism's positive impact on the U.S. economy.
"Tourism and hospitality are areas where we can work together to create and keep jobs in the United States," said subcommittee chairman Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i). "The travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver and job creator across the country and especially in Hawai'i. It generates trillions of dollars in economic output and supports more than 14 million American jobs. Expanding our tourism industry and creating good jobs is going to take increased collaboration between the public and private sectors."
"Growing our nation's travel and tourism industry is vital for our economy in South Carolina and across our country. In South Carolina alone, our tourism activity supports ten percent of all jobs and even more in places like Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Greenville or Hilton Head," said ranking member Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). "As we look to bring 100 million visitors into the country annually by the end of 2021, what these hotels, activity operators, restaurants and shops really need is a partner in Washington, D.C. that isn't overtaxing, over-regulating or otherwise standing in the way of their ability to grow."