PRESS RELEASE: Visit U.S. Coalition Announces Policy Agenda to Reverse Drop in International Tourists

Washington—Today, the Visit U.S Coalition rolled out a targeted policy agenda, aimed at reversing the years-long decline in inbound international travelers to the United States and borrowing from President Trump’s message to the world, that travelers from around the globe know that America is open for business.

“Winning back international visitors is the key to growing our economy and unlocking billions of dollars and thousands more American jobs,” said coalition spokesman Amos Snead. “Working with the Administration to streamline travel and screening processes and embrace travel as a national priority, we can attract more visitors to the United States and give the world a unique understanding of what makes America great.”

Visit U.S. stands ready to partner with the Administration and Congress to reverse the decline in U.S. global travel market share that has been occurring since 2015, according to official government data.   Embracing policies that enable America to reach this goal and securely welcome 88 million international visitors will directly support 1.3 million U.S. jobs and create a total of $294 billion in travel exports – crucial to achieving the Administration’s economic goals.  This bold, short-term objective supports the longer-term visitor goal recommended by the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to the Secretary of Commerce.  The coalition endorses the following positions to achieve this goal.

“The president knows our business, because it’s his business; he understands how important travelers and their spending are to the American economy,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. “When a traveler from abroad visits one of our great destinations, it’s not just money injected into the hotel and travel industry, but the restaurants they dine in, the shops where they purchase a souvenir from their trip. Tourism dollars support so many industries and jobs, and it’s critical we regain our market share.”

“International travelers are some of our best customers, spending billions in American hotels, restaurants, stores, and attractions,” said Katherine Lugar, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association. “At a time when the U.S. trade deficit is growing, travel and tourism has been a bright spot, and is actually our country’s second largest export. That’s why we are concerned to see international travel to the U.S. on the decline – so many businesses are hurt by this decline. We are committed to working with the Administration to reverse this downward trend, and welcome more visitors from around the world to our great country.”

“Travel and tourism continues to be one of the backbones of America’s overall economy. In 2015, the timeshare industry alone contributed $79.5 billion to the U.S. economy,” said Howard Nusbaum, President and CEO of the American Resort Development Association. “Travel provides much more than economic value. It’s an opportunity to experience a different culture. Studies have shown that those who travel to the U.S. have a higher opinion of our country than those who have not visited the United States. In short, travel and tourism creates a true person-to-person diplomacy opportunity. We look forward to working closely with the Administration to put forward policies that will allow for smart and safe travel to our great nation.”

“Like the other coalition members, ASAE is concerned about the decline in international travel to the United States,” said American Society of Association Executives President and CEO John H. Graham, IV, FASAE, CAE. “It’s in our common interest to work with our association partners and policymakers to reverse this downward trajectory. We understand and support the need for security, but we also need to better communicate that America is a welcoming destination for international visitors.”

“Each year, the US exhibitions industry conducts more than 9,400 exhibitions spanning all 50 states that contribute approximately $80 billion to the US GDP through direct, indirect and induced impact spending,” said IAEE president and CEO, David DuBois, CMP, CAE, CTA, FASAE. “International attendees and exhibitors are an integral part of sustaining this global industry and we support any policies by the US Administration that makes international visitors in any form easier to the United States.”

“When international visitors come to the U.S., they support American businesses. By spending at hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and more, travelers are essential to creating jobs in our communities,” said International Franchise Association President & CEO Robert Cresanti. “The Visit U.S. Coalition’s message, that America is open for business, is IFA’s message, and we are proud to be a member.”

“Welcoming international visitors while keeping the country safe should be a leading national priority,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers are feeling the impact of a strengthened economy and are anticipating a solid year ahead, but we can achieve faster and sustained growth by encouraging global customers to visit the United States and shop in our stores. There are several commonsense steps we can take, such as making the visa system more accessible without undermining security, that will go a long way in reversing a troubling decline in international tourism and promoting jobs and economic growth here at home.”

“Robust international travel helps to power the U.S. commercial real estate markets, not only hospitality properties but retail, attraction, health and investment properties as well,” said Jeffrey D. DeBoer, President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable.  “We look forward to continuing to work to emphasize that America is a uniquely welcoming, interesting and safe travel destination for international visitors.   Positive national tourism policies boost overall economic growth, support and create jobs, generate revenues to help modernize our infrastructure, and generally improve the quality of life in our communities.”

“Whether it’s as simple as choosing the best flight, hotel or short-term rental in which to stay, or as crucial as choosing in what region of the country to start exploring, Travel Tech members are on the front lines when it comes to helping international travelers make the best choices for every aspect of their visit to the United States,” said Steve Shur, President of The Travel Technology Association. “Travel Tech and its members are proud to be an integral part of a strong travel and tourism industry, which has great benefits for all sectors of our economy and communities across the country. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration in support of efforts to make certain the U.S. is open for travel.”

“We can generate even greater economic growth here at home if we recapture our share of the international travel market,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It makes good business sense to welcome more international travelers to the United States. It creates more opportunities for international visitors to purchase more American goods and services, which helps drive economic growth and job creation for American workers. That’s why the U.S. Chamber is pleased to be working with our partners from across industry to raise this as an economic imperative and a public policy priority.”

“The president understands how to stimulate prosperity and job growth, as evidenced by his tax cut package and his focus on economy-boosting priorities such as infrastructure,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “International tourism is an incredibly potent driver of economic activity and job creation, but America is falling behind the rest of the world in attracting those dollars. Recapturing the U.S. market share of international travel would further strengthen his economic record and help realize his vision of consistent three percent GDP growth.”

Find the full policy agenda here.