Visit U.S. Coalition Steps Up Advocacy for Travel to United States

The Visit U.S. Coalition, a new organization of travel industry companies that launched last November to promote travel to the United States, reports it is stepping up its advocacy with meetings with key leaders on Capitol Hill and a new video highlighting international travel as a key engine for growth across the American economy:

The video includes comments from U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, Asian American Hotel Owners Association President and CEO Chip Rogers, Wyndham Hotel Group President and CEO Geoff Ballotti, and Best Western International President and CEO David Kong.

The CEOs of the Visit U.S. Coalition discussed their policy platform with lawmakers in a series of recent meetings on Capitol Hill, emphasizing the benefits of improving the U.S. market share of international inbound travel, including increased spending at hotels, restaurants, retail stores, events and more.

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“America is open for business, it’s the greatest country in the world, a great place to come visit, and we want that message to permeate out of the White House across the globe,” said AAHOA’s Rogers in a written statement.

“It’s super important…that we not drift back, we have had five or six great years of record growth in terms of international inbounds but the share that we are capturing is continuing to slip and that’s what we are all very focused on – maintaining that great market share,” said Wyndham’s Ballotti.

“When people come to the United States they experience the country firsthand and…they improve their impression of this country tremendously as a result, so I think we need to attract more people to come,” said Best Western’s Kong.

According to numbers cited by the Visit U.S. Coalition, while travel to the United States has continued to grow, the U.S. has lost market share in terms of international travel – which translates into lost opportunities on visitor spending and job creation. The United States has lost $32.2 billion in spending by international travelers due to the decline in the U.S. share of the international travel market from 2015 to 2017, including 7.4 million fewer international visitors to the U.S. as a result of that decline in market share. That translates into 100,000 American jobs not created, according to the coalition.

While the Visit U.S. Coalition did not directly reference it, the renewed advocacy push comes the same week as the Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which had been enforced since last December. Following that ruling, major industry organizations including the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the U.S. Travel Association called for an overt welcoming message for international travelers to the United States in order to minimize any potential negative impact on the travel industry and the U.S. economy.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has also warned that the ruling could hurt travel to the U.S., with its most recent survey showing that 23 percent of U.S. travel buyers have seen at least some level of reduction in their company’s travel due to the travel ban, with 37 percent expecting some level of reduction going forward due to the most recent ruling.

“Perhaps most strikingly, 62 percent of U.S. buyers believe this Administration is having a negative impact on business travel,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “For every one percent decrease in business travel spending, the U.S. economy loses 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.”

The Supreme Court has allowed full enforcement of the current version of the travel ban since December, when it issued an order allowing the policy to go through ahead of its hearing the case. This latest version of the travel ban is the third iteration of the policy, which was issued in late September. It applies to North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, dropping Sudan, which had been included in earlier versions of the order. Chad was also removed from the travel ban in April after officials in the Trump administration said it had “improved its identity-management and information sharing practices.”

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