State of the Union Analysis: Travel Could Be Key to Meeting President Obama's Priorities

white houseThe U.S. Travel Association reports its policy experts responded to elements of President Obama's State of the Union address that point to better facilitation of travel. The association noted the $2.0 trillion industry supports 14.6 million good-wage jobs and has recovered faster than most sectors of the economy in the wake of the recession.

"President Obama spoke of creating jobs that help people reach the middle class, and the travel industry's track record in doing just that is among the best," said U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow. "There are a number of things the Administration and Congress could do right away to help us help the president achieve his goals, such as passing the JOLT Act and reauthorizing Brand USA. We're excited to work with federal leaders to get there." 
Areas addressed by U.S. Travel include immigration, infrastructure and job creation.

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Vice president for government relations Patricia Rojas-Ungár on immigration: "The president understands that some of the best arguments for sound immigration reform are economic ones. Because visitors to the U.S. are spending foreign dollars, inbound international travel is an export, and in fact creates the third-largest trade surplus of any U.S. industry. The Senate immigration bill contained a number of key provisions that would greatly improve travel to the U.S., such as expanding the Visa Waiver Program to bring more high-spending visitors from friendly countries to our shores. We're heartened that House Republican leaders have indicated that they will move ahead on this critical issue as well."

Senior director of policy Erik Hansen on infrastructure: "We applaud the president's proposals to expedite critical infrastructure projects and reinvest tax savings into our aging transportation system, which will help travel businesses create jobs and continue to lead our economic recovery. But travel businesses can't achieve long-term growth and competitiveness unless we modernize our airports, rebuild our roads and bridges, and invest in alternative modes of transportation. And for that, Washington needs to provide long-term funding solutions."

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Senior vice president for research and economics David Huether on job creation and the income gap: "The travel industry excels in creating the middle-class jobs the president wisely seeks to emphasize. More than other industries, you start off as a young worker in a junior position in the travel industry, learn valuable skills needed in the modern workplace, and progress on a rewarding, upwardly mobile career path. The travel industry is already doing much of what President Obama discussed in the State of the Union, and with a little policy help in some key areas we could be doing even more to help this economy benefit everyone from top to bottom."