The new strategy demonstrates the administration's commitment to strengthening America's competitiveness in the growing global travel marketplace by easing travel restrictions and cumbersome policies which will encourage international visitors to the U.S.
More than 45 CalTravel Board Members and travel executives were gathered in Healdsburg, California when the President made the announcement, January 19. The announcement is timely and significant, given CalTravel's 30th Annual Summit, June 4-6, 2012 in Sacramento, will conclude with the organization's celebrated "CalTravel Rally Day at the Capitol" on June 6, 2012.
"Speeding the visa process, establishing pre-clearance policies, and reducing immigration lines is a significant first step in boosting the ability for us to attract foreign travelers," said CalTravel Chairman of the Board Susie Santo. "Because of our huge international visitor base, California stands to greatly benefit by these actions. CalTravel's Rally Day at the State Capitol on June 6 will offer California legislators and policy makers a chance to hear first-hand from leading tourism executives about the positive impact of tourism on jobs and our state economy," Santo said.
According to a White House statement, the President's announcement calls for a national strategy to make the United States the world's top travel and tourism destination, as part of a comprehensive effort to spur job creation. The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes - such as China, Brazil, and India - is projected to grow by 135%, 274% and 50% respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010.
The President's plan includes the following:
- Expanding and making permanent the Global Entry program;
- Increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program and travel by nationals eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, including through nomination of Taiwan to the program;
- Increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in Brazil and China by 40% in 2012;
- Creating an interagency government task force to work with Brand USA to promote travel and tourism opportunities in the U.S. to create jobs.
The global travel industry is booming. In 2010, the travel and tourism industry supported 7.4 million direct travel jobs; generated $188.4 billion in wages; and directly contributed $118 billion in tax revenue to government at all levels, leading economic recovery nationwide. In fact, according to the U.S. Travel Association, between March 2010 and July 2011, job growth in the travel industry was 84 percent faster than the rest of the economy.
Particularly, as the administration has recognized, travel from the emerging markets of Brazil, China and India will be important growth markets. Travel from these countries increased 110 percent between 2000 and 2010. Spending from these countries resulted in $14.9 billion in export revenue in 2010. Demand for visas is stronger than ever from these emerging markets and growing - since 2005 demand from Brazil has gone up 234 percent, 124 percent in China and 51 percent in India.
The California Travel Summit has gained industry-wide recognition as one of the State of California's most significant opportunities for travel and tourism professionals to share and improve individual knowledge, refine business relationships and add a voice to ongoing political discussions. Participants are offered a host of professional development sessions aimed at raising awareness of legislative issues and industry trends, developing marketing strategies and improving business practices. This year, the summit will conclude with CalTravel's "Rally Day at the Capitol, Tourism=Jobs" event, tourism professionals can register for either the conference and/or the rally at caltravel.org.
CalTravel is the unified voice for the California travel industry's political concerns. By advocating directly to the state legislature, the Governor's office, local and federal officials, businesses, and the public, CalTravel addresses issues that affect the state's tourism industry. CalTravel also aggressively seeks to ensure continued funding for Visit California.