Reducing traveler wait times, improving customer service and replacing a one-size-fits-all approach with a risk-based approach - along with a needed balance between security and travel facilitation - was recommended by U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a sweeping review of the impact of 9/11 on the travel industry.
Dow's remarks came in advance of the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and outlined a series of forward-thinking principles that will strengthen security and help eliminate barriers that Dow believes are discouraging travel to and within the United States.
“The decade following 9/11 has seen significant changes in the way Americans, and those who visit America, travel,” said Dow. “We must continue keeping travelers safe with the highest level of security, but we must incorporate principles that improve facilitation and encourage travel."
Reviewing economic data since 9/11, Dow noted key points that suggest that the U.S. has lost ground, including revenue, visitors and jobs:
• Since 9/11, international travel has represented a lost opportunity for the U.S. economy and American jobs. While global long-haul travel grew 40 percent from 2000 to 2010, overseas travel to the United States during this same timeframe rose just two percent. Despite more travelers worldwide, our slice of the pie shrunk, with U.S. market share of the global travel market dropping from 17 percent in 2000 to 12.4 percent in 2010.
• If America had simply kept pace with the growth in global long-haul international travel in the decade after 9/11, 78 million more travelers would have visited the United States, adding a total of $606 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 467,000 additional U.S. jobs annually.
• The past decade has been difficult for business travel, with total volume declining 21 percent between 2000 and 2010. This was due to the immediate impact of 9/11 and by the meetings crisis in the late 2000s. Business travel returned to growth mode in 2010, increasing nearly 4 percent, and growth is expected through 2014, although at a much slower rate ranging from 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent annually.
• Leisure travel has been quite resilient in the decade since 9/11, with leisure travel volume increasing 17 percent since 2000, despite a few years of negative growth. This growth underscores the importance of travel to Americans. Slow but steady growth of about 2 percent annually is expected through 2014.
With the domestic economy again appearing to decelerate, attracting more international visitors to the United States and improving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security experience will play an important role in creating job opportunities for Americans, Dow said. Implementing the principles set forth by the U.S. Travel Association will help make America more secure and competitive in the global marketplace, Dow said.