Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank joined business leaders from across the country earlier this week at the White House Business Council  American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Travel and Tourism to discuss the administration’s actions to help grow travel and tourism and support the millions of jobs associated with the industry. Travel and tourism is a bright spot for the American economy, leading the recovery with growth that has outpaced the growth of the overall economy by almost 800 percent and on pace for another year of record high international visitors to the U.S.
Since even before the passage of the Travel Promotion Act in 2010, the Administration has been focused on the importance of travel and tourism. The President recognized the importance of developing the travel and tourism industry and issued an Executive Order last January  that created a new inter-agency Task Force co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior and charged them with developing a National Travel and Tourism Strategy  to increase both domestic and international travel throughout the United States, with the goal of increasing the United States’ market share of worldwide travel. The Task Force included representatives from every agency and department whose mission intersects with the travel and tourism industry. The Task Force released the National Strategy in May with an ambitious goal of attracting 100 million international visitors ($250 billion in spending) to the U.S. annually by 2021 -- a 60% increase above the 62 million international visitors in 2011.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy laid out a blueprint for reaching that goal by focusing on five areas:
- Promoting the United States
- Enabling and enhancing travel and tourism to and within the United States
- Providing world-class customer service and visitor experiences
- Coordinating across government
- Conducting research and measuring results
Each of these recommendations includes a number of specific action items for short and longer-term action. Implementation of the Strategy is underway across the government.
At the forum, travel and tourism industry leaders from across the country gathered to engage in discussion with senior government leaders on how to continue that momentum. Dr. Blank highlighted some of the efforts the U.S. Department of Commerce is undertaking to support the National Travel and Tourism Strategy and to establish the National Travel and Tourism Office, will be a focal point for the federal government to coordinate its activities that support travel and tourism
Forum participants also discussed the critical role of Brand USA in promoting the U.S. as a destination. Established by the Travel Promotion Act, BrandUSA  has been moving forward as an independent, public-private entity tasked with promoting U.S. tourism abroad and it is a key part of the National Strategy’s goal of promoting travel to the U.S. Commerce is working closely with Treasury to help BrandUSA get off the ground.
They also heard updates on visa policy, travel facilitation and the National Travel and Tourism Strategy and discussed ways that government.