At a time when elected officials are searching for solutions to sluggish growth, unemployment, globalization, and continued economic challenges, an answer lies in travel, argues the U.S. Travel Association in a newly released study of the travel industry.
One in every eight American jobs (jobs that cannot be outsourced) depends on travel, the association says. "If supported by policies that allow the industry to thrive, travel can drive our nation's recovery and put Americans back to work."
"Travel plays a critical role in the nation’s economy. As an indispensable source of American jobs, the travel industry has served not only as a ticket to opportunity during tough economic times, but with the right support in place, it can lead a path to future prosperity."
The travel industry has a far broader economic footprint than many realize, U.S Travel says. "More than just transportation and lodging, travelers generate spending at restaurants, museums, parks and other destinations while vacationing, studying abroad or traveling on business. Engaging with travelers worldwide, the industry welcomes visitors globally and turns iconic American attractions and destinations into thriving exports."
"The historical, current and future impact of travel on American jobs is explained through three contributing characteristics: the industry’s geographic breadth, the distinct nature and makeup of travel jobs, and the tremendous opportunity for continued expansion and growth," the study reports.
First, the study examines the size and significance of the travel job market, including:
- Direct spending on travel supports 7.5 million American jobs – seven percent of total private-sector employment.
- Travelers’ spending is amplified through a ripple effect: as travel workers spend their paychecks in other sectors of the economy, and vendors and suppliers receive contracts from hotels and rental car businesses, which injects $1.9 trillion into the U.S. economy and supports 14.4 million American jobs.
Next, travel has been critical for millions of American workers during these tough economic times, U.S Travel says:
- The industry disproportionately puts to work Americans unemployed due to the recession – younger workers and those without higher education.
- Travel jobs provide the flexibility to enhance skills through higher education and career development.
- Travel jobs cannot be outsourced; while other jobs have been shipped overseas, jobs tied to national parks, iconic cities and beautiful shorelines can no more be outsourced than the attractions themselves.
Also, travel is blazing the path toward a brighter economic future, U.S. Travel says, noting a study by McKinsey Global Institute predicting as many as one in seven new jobs over the next decade will come from travel.
Travel represents America’s largest export industry. Those exports directly support 1.1 million American jobs, which will only continue to rise as the U.S. attracts new visitors from rapidly emerging markets around the world.
To boost travel requires investment and support, the association says.
"At a time of job shortages and budget deficits, encouraging more travel would serve as a massive stimulus at no cost to taxpayers. For the American economy, there is no better deal than travel, and no faster path to recovery."
Research all points to the same conclusion: travel means jobs. "In terms of overall impact, travel already supports 14.4 million jobs, but can do so much more. At a time of low growth, travel offers the stimulus that the American economy needs. At a time of high unemployment, travel offers jobs for workers in need of opportunity. At a time of rising international competition, travel offers jobs rich in exports and resistant to outsourcing. In short, travel will be America’s indispensable growth industry in the years ahead."
To realize the full potential for growth, leaders of the public and private sector must act decisively to enact travel-friendly policies, U.S. Travel says. This includes:
Winning the Competition for International Travelers. "While international travel is booming, America’s share of this lucrative market has been flat. By streamlining the U.S. visa process and adding more deserving countries to the Visa Waiver Program, the federal government can send a message to travelers from around the world: 'America is open for business.'”
Investing in Travel Promotion. "Public and private-sector leaders need to continue working together to make Brand USA, America’s first-ever nationally coordinated marketing entity, a success. State and local governments can strengthen this national effort by continuing to invest in proven travel promotion programs."
Supporting Economic Development through Travel. "As one of America’s largest and fastest growing employers, travel can serve as the catalyst for achieving America’s economic goals of stronger, more sustainable growth and full employment."
Improving the Air Travel Experience. "Improving security at America’s airports and reducing the burden on travelers, since the one-size-fits-all security system implemented post-9/11, has the potential to create an additional $85 billion in traveler spending, which would support 100,000 American jobs."
Building World-Class Infrastructure to Support World-Class Destinations. "A world-class travel destination must have a first-class infrastructure system, and that requires new investment in airports and highways."
These actions will get America moving again, U.S.Travel concludes. "The stakes could not be higher: more travel means more exports, more small businesses, more spending and most importantly, more American jobs that cannot be outsourced. Travel is a critical vehicle steering America on the road to recovery, with smart leadership, and it can drive our future prosperity."