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Efforts to Make the U.S. the Number One Tourist Destination

December 4, 2012

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Marc Buergi is a fellow in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs, and is an International Affairs graduate student at the George Washington University.

Many of us will be traveling during the upcoming holiday season.

Visiting family, friends and discovering new places is enjoyable. So is knowing that every time we travel we are also aiding our economy: travel expenditures help support the 7.5 million Americans employed in the U.S. travel and tourism industry.

Not only is the industry benefiting from domestic travelers like ourselves, but as more and more people visit our country from abroad, international visitor spending is becoming a growing share of the industry’s success in recent years. In fact, over 66 million tourists and travelers are expected to come to the U.S. this year alone, which would represent an increase of 6 percent over last year’s figures.

The good news is that upward trend is likely to continue: travel and tourism is expected to grow by 3.6 to 4.3 percent each year for the next five years according to a new report released this week.

The biggest growth markets are Asia and South America. The number of Chinese visitors alone is expected to increase by 259 percent in the next five years, while the number of Brazilian tourists is projected to swell by 83 percent.

The new travel forecast underscores the importance of international tourism to the U.S. economy, and the exponential opportunities these favorable trends can bring. That is why the President has set out a goal to make the United States the number one tourism destination worldwide.

In May 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department and the Department of the Interior presented the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to the President which is our roadmap to accomplish this ambitious goal. The Strategy lays out concrete steps which will be taken to make the U.S. even more attractive for international visitors, for instance travel promotion campaigns in key markets, improvements in the visa waiver program, and in the security procedures at U.S. airports.

The strategy is already bearing fruit. For example, last month Taiwan was included into the U.S. visa waiver program. The citizens of that country will now be able to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa – and many Taiwanese will use that opportunity.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is at the forefront of the government’s efforts to implement the Strategy. ITA is continuing to supply the travel and tourism industry with important data, including international arrivals to the United States, the forecast of international travel to America for more than 30 countries, and estimates of the total impact of travel and tourism on the economy, among other services.

Earlier this month, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade Kenneth Hyatt highlighted these efforts at a Washington Post Travel and Tourism Forum where he emphasized the need to consider the customer experience.

Millions of people from abroad would love to visit our county – the U.S. government is making sure that as many of them as possible actually choose the U.S. as their holiday destination.

8 comments

  1. I think the biggest challenge is offering world travelers incentives to visit the U.S. while at the same time implementing security measures to safeguard our national interests.


  2. These are some massive figures! Chinese tourists to increase by 259 percent is huge! It’s really good to see the visa waiver working toward a better tourism industry for America too.


  3. This is a good idea. But I agree with Jose Gallardo * .


  4. With the US dollar at it’s weakest for a long time, so many Australians are holidaying there now because of the great exchange rate. Only ten years ago, the Australian dollar only bought around 50 US Cents, now it’s at parity, making it an extremely appealing destination! I’ve taken advantage of this a few times! Australia is now the 10th largest source of arrivals in the US from a population of only 22 million!


  5. I am very happy that our government strongly supports the tourism sector.


  6. It is important to find real visitors/tourist because such visitors/tourists who come to the country, stay, and go back to their homeland are more beneficial for the Tourism Department.


  7. I think that the US’s biggest problem in attracting tourists is their security – whilst I understand that it is to make the country safe, it can be very unappealing to tourists from countries that may not be looked upon favourably. Unfortunately, I don’t see these sorts of security measures being changed anytime soon so I don’t see some people being all that comfortable with travelling there. I myself probably won’t venture that way in the near future.


  8. I can honestly say i love visiting the USA we usually go to our cousins in Los Gatos California, we always have such a lovely time visiting San Francisco , Monterey and Reno to name just a few of the places we love to regularly visit. I just have one small criticism of how visitors are treated, well at least at San Francisco airport, the immigration officials are very hostile intimidating and on many occasions rude I have been shouted at on several occasions for just letting one of my feet cross the red line. This is not how we get treated when leaving the airport we get nothing but warm greeting and courtesy from the American people and can’t thank them enough for the warmth they show us.

    Just a thought I know they are doing an important job with security but it does not hurt to be nice.

    Michael
    l



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