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Commerce Secretary Locke Meets With U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board With Focus on Supporting the Industry in the Gulf

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, July 26, 2010

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

 Commerce Secretary Locke Meets With U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board With Focus on Supporting the Industry in the Gulf

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in New Orleans, La., to review the work being done by travel and tourism industry and government leaders, and to discuss how they can support the industry in areas impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

“Jobs are the number one priority of the Obama administration and the travel and tourism industry plays a key role in that effort,” Locke said. “It's clear we are going to need a proactive and aggressive approach to expand travel and tourism both in the Gulf and throughout the United States.”

While improving the industry in the Gulf was central to the Board’s discussion at the meeting, members also addressed tourism policies and other issues affecting the travel and tourism industry nationwide. Today’s meeting was the second of the current Board – made up of 27 industry leaders.

The travel and tourism industry is a significant contributor to trade and economic development in the United States, with one out of every 16 Americans working – either directly or indirectly – in travel and tourism related industries. In 2009, the U.S. travel and tourism industry generated nearly $1.3 trillion in economic output, supported 8.2 million American jobs and accounted for 24 percent of all U.S. services exports and 8 percent of total exports. The board will play a key role in the development of the administration’s export policies. 

“Travel and tourism will play an important role in helping the U.S. economy recover and prosper,” said Francisco Sanchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade. “The industry is critical to us reaching President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports over the next five years, while supporting two million American jobs.”

Despite the recent economic downturn, the United States still enjoyed a $21 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism in 2009. International arrivals increased 22 percent in February, the second double-digit increase since May 2008, marking the fifth consecutive month of positive growth. For the first two months of 2010, visitation was up 15 percent compared to the same period in 2009. International visitors also spent $10.5 billion in February, three percent more than in February 2009. This marks the first increase in monthly U.S. travel and tourism-related exports since 2008.