U.S. Unveils National Tourism Strategy Seeking 100 Million Visitors by 2021
By James Shillinglaw
May 10, 2012 9:32 PM
U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled the Obama administration’s National Tourism and Travel Strategy, delivering on President Barack Obama’s call in January for a national strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States.
The National Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the U.S., laying out concrete steps to be taken in five key areas. It sets out a goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021, representing more than a 50 percent increase over the number expected this year. These international visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.
“Tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America every year,” said President Obama. “They stay in our hotels, they eat at our restaurants, they visit our attractions, and they help create jobs. At a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, we need to make it easier for more people to visit this country and keep our economy growing.”
The U.S. government plays a unique role in creating a positive environment for private sector job growth in the travel and tourism industry, while protecting resources, travelers, and the public. International travelers require services when they apply for a U.S. visa, enter the country, visit federally managed sites, and navigate our transportation systems. The quality of these services will enhance or detract from the image of the United States as a travel destination and impact our ability to compete globally.
This National Travel and Tourism Strategy establishes an overarching goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who will spend an estimated $250 billion, annually by the end of 2021. The strategy aims to achieve this goal by:
Promoting the United States: Federal agencies will take action to capitalize on the growing demand for travel and tourism in the United States by creating a positive and welcoming message for international visitors. The government will expand its promotional efforts to market the United States as a travel destination by providing senior administration spokespeople and content on the diversity of attractive tourist sites within Federal jurisdiction. Using government authorities, messengers and outlets (including agency websites, social media tools, embassies and consulates and highprofile officials), the government will communicate the tourism opportunities in America to a larger domestic and international audience. It will coordinate with Brand USA, the public-private organization established to market the U.S., in its mission to promote international travel to the United States. It will promote new opportunities to access federal data and use technology to enhance and tailor information for visitors to identify destinations and plan trips to and within the United States.
Enabling and enhancing travel and tourism to and within the U.S.: Federal agencies will take specific actions with the goal of reducing institutional barriers to the free flow of trade in travel services; expanding the Visa Waiver Program (VWP); enhancing U.S. visa processing to meet the expected growth in demand; expanding trusted traveler programs and expedited screening initiatives; and improving the processes for arrival and aviation security screening, while ensuring the security of our borders and the safety of the traveling public. Federal agencies will continue to innovate and make improvements in processes, technologies, staffing, and infrastructure to streamline the visa application process and entry into the country through border crossings and ports of entry, for legitimate travelers. Wider deployment of new airport security screening technologies and investments in aviation infrastructure will further improve the passenger screening and overall travel experience for domestic and international air travelers. In addition, the government will continue to use its discretionary grant programs to make strategic investments in transportation infrastructure to enable safer and more efficient movement between destinations throughout the country.
Providing world-class customer service and visitor experience: The government will take steps to ensure a high quality experience for travelers that will inspire repeat visitation and positive word-of-mouth advertising. The government also will support workforce development initiatives and small businesses to ensure that Federal and private sector workers are equipped to effectively serve and maximize business opportunities with a diverse audience of visitors. By also piloting innovative ways to use technology to provide information and interpret content for nonEnglish speaking visitors and taking advantage of technologies like smartphones and translation applications, the government will provide fresh, dynamic content in the most indemand languages, and will be able to reassess and respond continually to new language and information needs.
Coordinating across government: Federal agencies must work together and with public and private partners to maximize the potential of travel and tourism to create jobs. The federal government will continue to prioritize its support for travel and tourism, and will take steps to better coordinate Federal policies and programs by reinvigorating the Tourism Policy Council, by engaging more deliberately with partners, and by encouraging coordinated federal participation in publicprivate tourism collaborations. In addition, the Department of Commerce will establish a national travel and tourism office to provide leadership and focus within the federal government.
Conducting research and measuring results: Public and private parties need up to date information to make smart decisions about policies and investments. The federal government will work with the travel and tourism industry and academic researchers to conduct high quality research on travel and tourism issues and trends to inform public and private decisionmaking. Performance metrics and accountability measures will be used to ensure continual progress on the important goals and strategies outlined in this National Strategy.
Commerce Secretary Bryson said the administration will continue to do everything it can to support travel and tourism as the country’s number one services export which will help support millions of American jobs. “I am proud of our work on the National Strategy, a product of a strong private-public partnership, which will make the U.S. even more welcoming to visitors and reinforce our message to the world: the United States is open for business,” he said.
Interior Secretary Salazar said as the nation’s economy continues to gain strength, international tourism holds the promise of being an economic engine for the country. “These recommendations will help make the United States a more attractive travel destination for people around the globe, and I look forward to working with our partners across government and industry to turn this strategy into action,” he said
The U.S. tourism and travel industry is a substantial component of U.S. GDP, exports, and employment. Efforts to make America the top tourist destination in the world offer a tremendous opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy. In 2011, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion from domestic and international travel and supported 7.6 million jobs -- with international travel to the United States resulting in a record $153 billion in receipts and supporting 1.2 million jobs. The Commerce Department recently released a travel and tourism forecast projecting that the U.S. can expect a 4-5 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, and that 65.4 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the U.S. in 2012 alone.
In January 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order and announced new administrative initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States. He charged Secretaries Bryson and Salazar with leading a Task Force for Travel and Competitiveness to create the National Strategy. The strategy announced May 10 reflects input from local government and business leaders, including the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), as well as ongoing initiatives throughout the federal government, to ensure that the government leverages all national assets and resources to fully support the travel and tourism industry.
The new National Travel and Tourism Strategy is already being warmly by the travel industry. “This important step officially elevates the travel industry to what it should be: a national priority,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “It also recognizes the industry for its fundamental contribution to our economy, national security and public diplomacy. The National Strategy sets a goal of increasing U.S. jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. This is no small effort, but the opportunity for economic growth and new jobs is too great. The travel industry stands ready to work with the administration in achieving this goal.
Brand USA, the new tourism marketing entity responsible for promoting the U.S. to world travelers, also declared its support for the new strategy. “The comprehensive steps outlined in the strategy and the continued commitment it pledges to the mission of Brand USA will be crucial to ensure the United States keeps pace with ever-changing and increasingly competitive global dynamics and firmly establishes itself as the premier world travel destination," said Brand USA Chairman Stephen Cloobeck. "Brand USA applauds the Task Force, specifically the co-chairs Secretary Bryson and Secretary Salazar, for its leadership in driving economic growth for our country through the power of travel and tourism."
Brand USA launched the first wave of its global campaign at the beginning of this month -- in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan -- to be followed by several other markets. The fully integrated campaign includes TV and print advertising, out of home elements (including bold signage in key metropolitan areas, mass transit, and even cinemas in some markets), as well as digital/social media. You can view the TV advertising via this link, which will take you directly to our YouTube channel entitled Your Discover America.