Against the backdrop of Disney World, President Obama signed an executive order that will boost tourism to the United States and ultimately create jobs. The order will create, among other things, a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness that will develop and deliver within 90 days a National Travel and Tourism Strategy that will help encourage international visitors to come to the United States. More than 47 million international visitors have arrived to see our sights, attend conferences, take family vacations, visit natural wonders, theme parks and experience what we have to offer. Developing a national tourism strategy and streamlining the visa process for non-immigrant visas will attract more tourists and create more jobs.
Commerce Secretary Bryson this week also welcomed the 32 members (19 of whom have never before served) of the re-chartered Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The Board serves as the principal private sector advisory committee to the Secretary of Commerce on the U.S. travel and tourism industry.
As the new Board gets situated in their new role as advisors, they will be building on the foundation laid out by previous Boards. Originally chartered in 2003, the Board has been conferring and advising the Secretary on everything from revival of the Gulf Coast Region to recommendations on energy security and travel facilitation.
Members represent companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry from a broad range of products and services, company sizes and geographic locations. Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon will serve as Chair and Sam Gilliand, Chairman and CEO of Sabre Holdings will serve as Vice-Chair. Both are returning members to the Board and will provide leadership in the activities of the new Board that will build on work of their predecessors.
The travel and tourism industry is a crucial part of the U.S. services economy whose strength and growth is essential to the economic health of our nation. Travel and tourism is a $1.2 trillion sector of the U.S. economy or nearly three percent of Gross Domestic Product. Critical to the nation’s overall economic health, the travel and tourism industry is one of the top employers for more than half of the U.S. states and territories.
The U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for a record-setting year. Through November 2011, international visitors spent an estimated $139.4 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date, an increase of 13 percent compared to the same period in 2010. The United States recorded a $38.4 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism through November 2011.
There is no denying that the health of the travel and tourism industry impacts millions of Americans nation-wide and the council of these 32 advisors will play a significant role in ensuring that Brazilian, Chinese, and Indian travelers come see America!