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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Highlights Importance of Tourism to U.S. Economy in Orlando

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, May 3, 2010

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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Highlights Importance of Tourism to U.S. Economy in Orlando

Locke highlights new Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development

Remarks
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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke discussed the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the U.S. economy today at a town hall meeting in Orlando, Fla. Generating nearly $1.3 trillion in economic output for the U.S. economy and supporting 8.2 million U.S. jobs, the industry is a key component of our nation’s economy. Locke also highlighted President Obama’s new Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, a $40 million interagency effort to facilitate economic development in the Space Coast region that Locke will co-chair.

“This administration is committed to making sure that we help local economies like Florida’s Space Coast adjust and thrive in the years ahead,” Locke said. “The space industry is obviously such an important part of this region’s economy; so too, is travel and tourism.”

Joined by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Grayson at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Locke addressed students and industry and community leaders on the state of the travel and tourism industry, President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), and the Commerce Department’s plans for job creation and economic growth. Florida is the second most popular destination for international visitors to the United States, and Orlando is among the top five visited cities.

“Today, one out of every 16 Americans work – either directly or indirectly – in travel and tourism-related industries,” Locke said. “Attracting more international travelers to the United States will create jobs in America, strengthen the economy, and help the travel and tourism industries thrive.”

Locke met with senior executives representing the Orlando travel and tourism community following the town hall meeting, and discussed the Travel Promotion Act and opportunities for industry leaders to serve on the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Travel Promotion.

On March 4, President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 into law, putting into place a new public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation’s travel and tourism industry.When international visitors come to the United States, they spend money on a wide range of goods and services that support American jobs. Travel and tourism is the top services export for the U.S.

The NEI is focused on creating a more robust effort to expand trade advocacy in all its forms, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises. This effort includes educating U.S. companies about opportunities overseas, improving access to credit for businesses that want to export, and continuing the rigorous enforcement of trade laws so that American companies compete on a level playing field.

In 2009, the United States welcomed 54.9 million international visitors and generated $121.1 billion in revenues for the country.