U.S. Losing International Visitors

The decline in overseas travel to the US since 2000 has cost America half a billion dollars and more than 440,000 jobs in total travel-related spending, according to a new report by the U.S. Travel Association, in conjunction with Oxford Economics.

“While international travel has been an oasis of opportunity, we’re still lost in the desert,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel’s president and CEO. “We can’t afford another lost decade when we’re looking for ways to kick-start the economy and create jobs.  If not now, when?”

The new report, focused on the “Lost Decade” in overseas travel to the U.S., underscores U.S. Travel’s recommendation that Congress pass bipartisan legislation — now awaiting action in the Senate — to create the first-ever promotion and communications program aimed at attracting international travelers to the U.S.

According to Dow, the US welcomed a projected 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors in 2009 than in 2000. This contrasts with the growth in international travel over the decade, which led to 46.3 million more international travelers taking long-haul trips in 2009 than in 2000.

The projected 2009 results show 23.5 million visitors to the US from overseas, a decline of 7.1 percent compared with the 25.3 million who visited in 2008.

In calling for prompt action on the Travel Promotion Act,  Dow cited a recent study showing the widespread benefits of sending a welcoming message around the world.

Oxford Economics found that the impact of a well-executed, fee-funded promotion program of $200 million will attract 1.6 million new visitors each year, add $4 billion to the U.S. economy annually, produce $320 million per year in new federal tax revenues and create approximately 40,000 new U.S. jobs.

UPDATE 4/4/11: According to a recent email from USTA, the United States welcomed just one percent more high-value overseas visitors in 2010 than it did in 2000, despite an extraordinarily weak dollar and an increase of 60 million long-haul travelers worldwide (up 40 percent) during the last decade. The failure to simply keep pace with the growth in global long-haul travel worldwide has cumulatively cost the U.S. economy 79 million lost visitors and $585 billion in lost spending, which could have supported 450,000 jobs directly and indirectly in all regions of the country.

Source: TravelMole

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