Travel and Tourism Show Job-Creating Promise
Subscribe today for Free Enterprise Updates
- Latest business trends and best practices
- News about legislation and regulation impacting business
- Business how-to articles from industry experts
- Commentary and interviews with newsmakers in business and politics
Right now, American families are at beaches, amusement parks, historical sites, or national parks. Along with them, international travelers are visiting the same places or are here for business. These millions of travelers support millions of jobs.
There has been solid growth in the travel and tourism sector recently, but there’s room for even more growth. The Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, a group led by the Departments of Interior and Commerce, released a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to improve and coordinate efforts in the government and the private sector to make the U.S. a more inviting place for tourists.
According to the report:
In 2011, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion and supported 7.6 million jobs. Real travel and tourism spending grew 3.5 percent in 2011, outpacing the 1.7 percent growth rate for the economy as a whole.
The United States received more than 11 percent of global spending on travel and tourism, with 62 million international visitors who generated travel and tourism exports of $153 billion, lowering the trade deficit by $42.8 billion.
Another interesting item in the report is that "business travel accounts for approximately 22 percent of overseas travel to the United States." We can't forget that the U.S. is a destination for getting business done.
Look at the number of jobs powered by this sector when the U.S. is only at 11% of global spending on travel and tourism. Imagine how many more jobs will be created if we return to the 17% the U.S. has in 2000? This is low-hanging, job-creating fruit waiting to be picked.
Earlier this year, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue told senators, “The travel and tourism sector is a clear example where relatively easy fixes can bring forth real results.”
The national strategy outlines some of those fixes:
- Promote the U.S. with Brand USA, the organization charged with promoting U.S. travel.
- Coordinate better among federal agencies, and develop more cooperation between the public and private sector.
- Expand Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to make it easier for travelers to enter the U.S.
- Expand trusted traveler programs to speed up processing of pre-approved, low-risk travelers in and out of the U.S.
- Improve visa processing especially for growing markets like China and Brazil.
In addition, Congress could pass the Jobs Originating from Launching Travel (JOLT) Act to increase travel to the U.S.
The travel and tourism sector is a bright spot for the economy. A continued focus on marketing America and making the U.S. more welcoming to international visitors will continue to help this sector grow and create much-needed jobs.