Obama Announces Initiative to Boost U.S. Tourism

After a 30 percent drop off in international travel to America, the president makes a plan to bring tourists, and their cash, back.

by Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

President Barack Obama announced today at the happiest place on earth that “America is open for business.”

After finding a 30 percent drop off in spending by international travelers to the U.S. from 2000 to 2010, the U.S. commander-in-chief chose Florida’s Walt Disney World to describe his new national initiative to boost travel and tourism to the United States, which would, ultimately, create new jobs.

In a White House conference call, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett said the focus will be placed on high-growth countries including Brazil, China and India, to get their citizens to visit the U.S.

“Improving Visa processing for China and Brazil is critical," she said. “By 2016, the number of travelers from China is projected to grow by 135 percent, and the number of travelers from Brazil is expected to grow by 274 percent, when compared to 2010. In addition, according to the Department of Commerce, Chinese and Brazilian tourists currently spend more than $6,000 and $5,000 respectively each per trip in the United States.”

Jarrett said the U.S. market share of spending by international travelers fell from 17 percent to 11 percent of the global market from 2000 to 2010 -- more than a 30 percent decrease.

“This decrease was primarily due to increased international competition, changing patterns in global development, and, to some degree, more stringent security requirements imposed after 2001,” she said. “Given the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the United States economy, and job creation, a coordinated policy consistent with protecting our national security is needed to support a prosperous and secure travel and tourism industry in the United States.”

The travel industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market, Jarrett added.

Danielle Gray, deputy director of the National Economic Council, said during the call that America’s natural resources and treasures will be a significant part of the government’s strategy to increase international tourism.

“…Our parks, our lakes, our wildlife refuges are such a large potential source of tourism opportunities both in terms of increasing visitors from the United States as well as increasing visitors from abroad,” she said. 

Bob Iger, president and CEO of Walt Disney World, said during the call that an increase in international tourists can impact American businesses very quickly.

“It contributes mightily to the U.S. economy,” he said. “…More people will be able to fulfill their wishes and their dreams and visit the United States. … We have the ability to create many more jobs by simply adding to our visitation more people from these international markets.”

Click here to read more about the initiative.

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First Published Thu, 2012-01-19 15:57

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