I was pleased to have the opportunity last Friday to speak at the Global Access Forum for Small Businesses hosted by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), where I highlighted how this Administration is supporting the National Export Initiative(NEI) through travel and tourism. The NEI is the Obama Administration’s commitment to serve as a full partner with U.S. businesses to promote American-made goods and services worldwide. Among other things, the NEI focuses on improving trade advocacy and promotion efforts to increase exports.
Generating increased spending from international travelers to the U.S. is just one way we are increasing exports, and the Obama Administration has developed the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to help make progress on that front. The National Strategy delineates the United States government’s plan to increase American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who we estimate will spend $250 million annually, within 10 years.
(Read the blog post by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on the National Travel and Tourism Strategy for more information.)
I was pleased to share the Department of Commerce’s efforts on the National Travel and Tourism Strategy with the Global Access Forum for Small Business, an Ex-Im Bank initiative to increase the number of small businesses exporting goods and services, thereby maintaining and creating U.S. jobs. As a part of achieving these export goals, the Global Access Forum was an opportunity to encourage small businesses to make the investments that will allow them to benefit from increased tourism and spending by international visitors.
Hawaii was an ideal backdrop for this meeting, because it represents the diversity of experiences that America has to offer international visitors.
Overseas travel to Hawaii in 2011 totaled 2.3 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2010. The Hawaiian Islands were the fifth most visited U.S. destination by overseas travelers in 2011.
The efforts of Hawaiian businesses to sell their products and services to international travelers are a significant contributor to the United States’ success in international travel and tourism exports – which represents 11.3 percent of world traveler spending.
In fact, one quarter (25 percent) of all U.S. services exports come from travel and tourism receipts, and more than 1.2 million jobs in the United States are supported by international travelers.
It was my pleasure to engage the Hawaiian travel and tourism industry as we build on last year’s record $153 billion in travel and tourism exports for the U.S. and work to meet our goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021 to increase American jobs.