I had an inspiring conversation today with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. I joined Secretary Pritzker and the heads of several Atlanta companies to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the Atlanta business community. I think we all felt inspired by the conversation and the work that the Department of Commerce is doing to lead the economic recovery.
Travel and tourism was a key topic the Secretary and I discussed. Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest services export. In 2012 international visitors spent nearly $166 billion and produced a $47 billion trade surplus, supporting 1.2 million jobs. Tourism benefits virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, from hotels and attractions to restaurants, transportation, retail, and professional services.
The travel and tourism industry has advanced under the leadership of the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce. We’ve witnessed the signing of the Travel Promotion Act, which created Brand USA , and the development of a National Travel Tourism Strategy  to attract 100 million international visitors by 2021.
As the public-private partnership established by law to promote international travel to the United States, Brand USA plays a central role in the National Strategy with a particular focus on increasing international visitation and spending.
Brand USA’s efforts are working. By the end of 2013, Brand USA will run consumer marketing in 11 markets representing 78% of travel to and spend in the United States. Each 1% increase in international travelers from these markets means 500,000 more travelers, $1 billion in spending, and up to 15,000 new jobs. In the first year of operation, Brand USA’s campaign proved successful: intent to visit the United States increased by 14% to 22% in the initial target markets of Canada, Japan, and the UK.
By the end of 2013, Brand USA’s global infrastructure will engage the travel distribution channels in 20 markets responsible for nearly 90% of inbound travel. Brand USA also has a robust cooperative marketing platform that provides the critical link between promotion of the United States and specific experiences around the country.
Importantly, we work closely with our Federal partners from a variety of Executive Branch agencies to communicate visa and entry policy, promote our nation’s greatest treasures, and equip diplomatic personnel with materials to promote the United States around the world. I know that Secretary Pritzker will be an outstanding leader for our combined efforts, and I look forward to working with her to strengthen this collaboration in the months and years ahead.