U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has announced that the U.S.’ number-one services export, travel and tourism , is growing stronger, creating jobs and boosting the American economy.
The Secretary announced  today that the United States can expect to see a 4-5 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, predicting that 65.4 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States in 2012 alone.
The Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast, released semi-annually by the International Trade Association (ITA), predicts continued strong growth in tourism to the U.S. following two consecutive record-setting years.
Secretary Bryson announced the Forecast at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow annual event in Los Angeles, where he delivered remarks before more than 5,000 people from 70 countries from the travel and tourism industry.
Earlier today, ITA also launched a new web-based tool  to provide the travel and tourism industry, as well as foreign visitors, with information and statistics from the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and State. In addition to providing basic information like travel tips, the site contains a set of 15 regularly-updated graphs on visa wait times, international arrivals processing times, and airline capacity in key markets. This online travel resource follows President Obama’s January 2012 executive order calling for the government to make it easier for tourists to find basic information about visiting America.
The Commerce Department recently released data showing that 62 million international visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2011, generating a record $153 billion in receipts and a $43 billion trade surplus. International and domestic tourism spending increased 8.1 percent, supporting an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million Americans employed in travel and tourism industries or in industries that support them. Further, 1.2 million jobs are supported directly by international traveler spending within the United States and on U.S. carriers.
In January, President Obama announced several initiatives to increase travel and tourism in the U.S. and created a Task Force for Travel and Competitiveness. In the announcement, Secretary Bryson and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar were charged with developing recommendations for a National Tourism and Travel Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the U.S. This morning, Secretary Bryson, along with Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, met with the President’s Task Force to discuss strategies for increasing travel to the United States, while the board advised the Secretary on policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry. Under Secretary Sánchez echoed Secretary Bryson in crediting the success of U.S. trade and export growth to the growing U.S. Travel and Tourism numbers.