U.S. Travel Association, National Restaurant Association and International Franchise Association Executives Discuss Travel, Economy 
WASHINGTON – Today, Visit U.S. Coalition members discussed the impact that international travelers have on the U.S. economy during a panel discussion at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA Investment Summit.

International travel to the U.S. has been a boon to the nation’s economy – creating and sustaining jobs in businesses ranging from hotels and attractions to restaurants and retailers.

While travel is America’s second-largest export, the U.S. share of the global travel market fell for the first time in a decade in 2015 and has continued to decline ever since. Simply put, more people are traveling globally, but fewer are choosing to visit the U.S – meaning that other countries are surpassing the U.S. and taking the lead in terms of international inbound travel.

“America must prioritize growing our economy through international travel to the U.S.,” said Tori Barnes, U.S. Travel Association’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy. “Renewing Brand USA, for example, will help us regain our lost share of international travel and show visitors what makes America great.”

The panel highlighted the need for policymakers to swiftly reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership established to market the United States as a travel destination to international visitors. Congress created the program in 2010 with strong bipartisan support, funding it with a small fee paid by incoming foreign travelers under the Visa Waiver Program and contributions from the private sector. Today, Brand USA’s marketing operates at a 32:1 return on investment—a program with undeniable economic benefits at no cost to the American taxpayer. However, without congressional action these funds will expire in 2020.

Panelists from the Visit U.S. Coalition highlighted the wide-ranging impacts of international travel to the U.S.

“One in three Americans got their start in a restaurant, and the industry employs more than 15 million people today,” said Steve Danon, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. “These jobs are engines of the economy in cities and towns across the country.”

“Franchises directly employ more than 8 million Americans in 300 lines of business,” said Josh Merin, Chief of Staff and Vice President of International Affairs at the International Franchise Association. “These locally owned businesses are globally known for their standards and consistency and are supported by visitors from around the world.”

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and showcases business investment opportunities available throughout the United States to global leaders. Featured speakers at the summit include: Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, governors from eight states, and senior business and trade association executives.