Earlier this year, US president Barack Obama issued an executive order on travel directing federal agencies to aggressively expand the nation’s ability to attract and welcome visitors, while maintaining the highest standards of security.
Today, the White House released a progress report from the departments of state and homeland security that outlines the activities underway to meet this goal.
This report discusses the steps taken to achieve the president’s visa and foreign visitor processing goals and the current progress of these and other measures to significantly bolster international travel and tourism.
The US tourism and travel industry is a substantial component of US GDP and employment, contributing $1.4 trillion in economic activity and 7.5 million jobs in 2011.
The travel and tourism industry projects that more than one million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the US increased its share of the international travel market.
The Obama administration is implementing important steps, as outlined in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, to bolster job creation through a range of activities to better promote the United States as a tourism destination and make it easier for legitimate foreign travellers to spend their money in the United States, while enhancing our ability to protect Americans from national security threats.
“Every year, tens of millions of tourists come from all over the world to visit America,” said president Obama.
“That’s good for business, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for our country.”
“That’s why, back in January, I announced new initiatives to bolster tourism and promote everything America has to offer and make it even easier for tourists to come and visit, without sacrificing our Nation’s security.
“I’m glad we’re making progress and I’ll continue to do whatever I can to strengthen the travel and tourism industry and create an economy that’s built to last.”
According to the US department of commerce, international travel resulted in $153 billion in US exports in 2011, an 8.1 per cent increase from 2010, and is the nation’s largest service export industry.
This positive trend has continued throughout 2012 with international tourists spending $13.7 billion in the United States in July 2012 alone, up $350 million or three per cent from the same month the previous year, and travel and tourism-related exports increasing, on average, more than $1.1 billion a month during the first seven months of 2012.
According to the travel industry and Bureau of Economic Analysis, international travel is particularly important as overseas or “long-haul” travellers spend on average $4,000 per visit, which in turn supports and leads to additional travel and tourism-related jobs.
Canada and Mexico remain our greatest sources of international visitors, with Consular officers at State’s ten visa-issuing posts in Mexico adjudicating more than 1,577,529 visas and border crossing cards from January through August 2012, an increase of almost 33 percent from the same time period in the previous year.
The Department of State passed a one million visa milestone not only in Mexico, but also in China, and, just last month, Brazil.
In addition to the Executive Order Progress Report, the White House announced a travel and tourism “Listening Tour.”
Administration and Cabinet officials will travel to various cities across the country to discuss the importance of increasing travel and tourism with state and local officials, small business owners, and key stakeholder organisations.
Additional details about the travel and tourism “Listening Tour” will be released as they become available.
See the report, here.