U.S. Travel and Tourism: The Little Engine that CouldMay 14, 2009
Sean Timmins is an International Trade Specialist on the Trade Missions Team in the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service. He is currently on rotation in the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries which serves as the National Tourism Office for the United States.
I am writing you today from the steps of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. where members of Congress and tourism leaders from the public and private sector are participating in the first ever U.S. Travel Rally Day. We are partnering with Destination DC (the local convention and visitors bureau) and the U.S. Travel Association to celebrate the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the United States’ economy. Similar rallies are taking place in 36 cities across the country, from Seattle to Orlando and Albuquerque to Cincinnati.
Did you know that the U.S. travel and tourism industry accounts for 2.6% of total U.S. GDP? Over 8 million American jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry and almost a million of those jobs are supported by international travelers coming to the U.S. It’s important to remember that travel and tourism not only creates and supports jobs in hotels, airlines, and car rental companies, but also in restaurants, movie theaters, bars, malls, gas stations, coffee shops, amusement parks and just about anywhere else that provides a service. In 2008, a record 58 million international visitors came to the United States. The largest number came from Canada, followed by Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.
My boss, Helen Marano (Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries), said “Travel is the ultimate freedom. Peoples from every nation can get away from their daily lives to experience new destinations, ‘walk in different shoes,’ meet people from different cultures, and learn to appreciate both their differences and their similarities.” She went on to say, “Travel builds bridges between peoples and cultures. Travel builds understanding between peoples and cultures. Travel builds diplomacy.”
May is a big month for U.S. travel and tourism. Next week, the travel and tourism industry’s premier international sales and marketing event,
Pow Wow, will take place in Miami. More than 4,200 attendees have registered, including more than 1,600 international travel buyers and nearly 400 journalists from over 70 countries. Helen will be blogging from Miami, so check back next week to hear what she’s got to say about this event!
So get out there and do your part – become a traveler. You can start by logging onto www.DiscoverAmerica.com, a promotional website that was developed through a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.