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Blog Category: Travel and tourism

Secretary Pritzker Speaks at the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board Meeting about the Administration’s Travel and Tourism Agenda

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today participated in a discussion about the Administration’s travel and tourism agenda at the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) meeting. The Board, established in 2003, serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. Its members, who serve two-year terms, represent a broad cross-section of the industry, including transportation services, financial services, and hotels and restaurants, as well as a mix of other small and large firms from across the country.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker spoke about the administration’s progress towards achieving its national goal for travel and tourism, which is to increase American jobs by welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. Last year alone, a record-breaking 74 million international visitors came to the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also spoke about the administration’s ongoing efforts to promote the travel and tourism sector, which are guided by the Board’s recommendations. She highlighted the agreement to expand visa validity with China as one particularly notable success. Since the new visa pact, Chinese demand for U.S. visas has grown by more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Following the announcement of an agreement to extend visa validity with China, the Department of Commerce organized a special session on travel and tourism during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Chicago, to ensure we are maximizing the potential of that policy change to grow our economy and create jobs.

Another priority of industry is to ensure a positive experience for international travelers at U.S. airports. A recent report released by Secretary Pritzker and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson calls for a new national goal to provide the best arrival experience in the world to an ever-increasing number of international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security. To meet this new goal and create an effective best arrival experience, the Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security have established a joint Task Force, led by the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and the Deputy Secretary of the department of Homeland Security, to lead the process and ensure accountability. The Board will make recommendations to Secretary Pritzker regarding the Task Force priorities and initiatives.

Another recommendation focuses on infrastructure. To achieve the national goal of attracting 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, there must be world-class infrastructure to attract tourism, serve current and future travelers, and remain a top destination. The Department of Commerce will provide input to the Department of Transportation as it develops its 30-year framework for Transportation needs to ensure that its equities are fully represented.

Secretary Pritzker also referenced the priorities for the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget, which will include $2 million to increase the sample size of the Survey of International Air Travelers. In addition, the Commerce Department is working with the State Department to develop tourism specific country plans for the top 10 overseas travel and tourism markets.

As a result of the meeting, the Board will be assessing its priority recommendations, for actions that will have the greatest impact during the next two years of the administration.

International Travelers to the United States Post Record Numbers in Visits and Spending

Bryce Canyon National Park

U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez highlighted new data today that show spending by international visitors to the United States in April 2013 totaled nearly $14.5 billion, an increase of more than 5 percent when compared to April 2012. International visitors have spent an estimated $57.9 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related services year to date in 2013 (January through April), an increase of 8 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.2 billion during April. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors totaled nearly $3.3 billion for the month. The United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of April in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of nearly $4.2 billion.

In 2012, international travel and tourism spending reached a record $168.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2011. The increase was the result of a surge in international visitors to the United States: in 2012, a record 67.0 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 4.3 million from the year before. Highlights of the 2012 arrivals data show that Canadian visitors set a record with 22.7 million visitors, up 6 percent.  Mexico was second with a record 14.5 million arrivals, up 8 percent. The U.K., (-2 percent), Japan (+14 percent), and Germany (+3 percent) rounded out the top five. Countries among the top 20 with the largest increase in 2012 from the previous year were: China (+35 percent), Colombia (+21 percent), Venezuela and Argentina (both up +20 percent), and Brazil (+ 19 percent). All five countries set records for visits to the United States in 2012.

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Visits Consular Section in Colombia to Promote Travel and Tourism

On the heels of Travel and Tourism Week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank visited the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia today as part of the trade mission she is leading this week to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.

Currently, the U.S. consular section in Colombia is the sixth busiest worldwide by volume of visa applicants. So far this year, the record for one day processing was 3,001 applicants—the highest in the world for that day. On average, the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia receives 2,300 applicants a day for travelers visiting the United States for tourism, work, or education purposes.

The Acting Secretary’s visit directly supports the Obama Administration’s commitment to promoting travel to, and tourism within, the United States. Travel and tourism, which represents the United States’ number one service export, is a crucial stimulator for the American economy. In March 2013, spending by international visitors to the United States totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year.

International Visitors Spent $14.4 Billion in the United States in March 2013

Firs-quarter U.S. Travel and Tourism exports contribute $43 billion to the U.S. economy

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank highlighted new data today that shows spending by international visitors to the United States in March 2013 totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year. International visitors spent $43 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the first quarter of 2013. The data release coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated each year to recognize the positive impact the industry has on our economy.


“International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012’s record-setting year. Likewise, last week’s jobs report showed continued strong job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry.  Travel and tourism is an important sector of our economy, which is why we are continuing to increase our efforts to attract more international tourists to vacation in the United States.” 

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11 billion during March. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion. Full release

International Traveler Spending On Pace For a Record Setting Year

Happy tourist jumping in Glacier National Park

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Travel and tourism spending by international visitors is helping to boost the U.S. economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce released data yesterday showing that international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date, an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year. Many people do not know that this boosts exports – when foreign citizens travel to America and buy goods and services from American companies, that counts as a U.S. export. The new data indicate that the first half of 2012 set a new record for U.S. travel and tourism exports, and, if these trends continue, international visitors could end up injecting close to $170 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end.

These increases help explain why the Obama administration is working hard to make the United States the top destination for international travelers. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior are implementing the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which they presented to the President in May. The National Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the U.S., setting out the goal of attracting over 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, more than a 50 percent increase over the number expected this year. These international visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks at White House Business Council Forum on Travel and Tourism

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

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

U.S. Outdoor Recreation Industry Found to Boost the Economy

The Outdoor Recreation Economy

Guest blog post by the International Trade Administration's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services Kenneth E. Hyatt.

If you haven’t heard the news, the U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for a record-setting year of creating American jobs and growing the economy.

In fact, a new report (PDF) released today by the Outdoor Industry Association shows the impressive impact of America’s outdoor recreation on the economy.  

The study found that the outdoor industry has created 6.1 million jobs nationally and puts $646 billion into the U.S. economy each year. The study also shows that each year, three out of four Americans participate in active outdoor recreation—activities like fishing, hunting, hiking, running, swimming and camping all contribute to refueling the economy.

This new study comes on the heels of new Commerce Department data released last week, which showed that international travelers are spending more while visiting the United States—and that the receipts for U.S. businesses are reaching record highs. International visitors spent an estimated $14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in April 2012—$1.5 billion more (or a 12 percent increase) than was spent in April 2011. International visitors have spent an estimated $54.6 billion in 2012 so far, which is an increase of 13 percent when compared to the same four-month period last year.

Commerce's ITA Releases Data Showing International Visitor Spending Continues at Record-Setting Pace

Graph: U.S. Travel and Tourism-Related Exports

Rate is twelve percent increase over last year

Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) today released tourism data revealing that international visitors spent an estimated $14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in April 2012—$1.5 billion more (12 percent) than was spent in April 2011.

The new data reaffirms the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to increase travel and tourism in the United States and comes on the heels of the release of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy (PDF) last month. The National Strategy is a blueprint for the Federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors each year by the end of 2021. The visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.  Read the full ITA release here.

National Travel and Tourism Strategy Sets Goal to Draw 100 million International Visitors to U.S.

One of America's many beautiful National Parks

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

As we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, the U.S. government is doubling down on its commitment to create more jobs for Americans by growing international and domestic travel and tourism that powers our economy.

Last year, 62 million international tourists visited the United States and pumped a record $153 billion into local economies, helping to support the 7.6 million jobs in our travel and tourism industry. These numbers make tourism America’s number one service export.

That’s why the White House released a new National Travel and Tourism Strategy today, charting a new course toward making America a more attractive and accessible destination than ever before. The Strategy sets a goal of drawing 100 million international visitors by 2021, which is expected to generate $250 billion annually in visitor spending by 2012. The strategy also encourages more Americans to travel within the United States.

America is the land of extraordinary natural wonders – from the Grand Canyon to the Florida Keys; from Yellowstone to Yosemite. America is where we do big things, and as a result, we have incredible landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building; the Hoover Dam and the Gateway Arch. This is the land of iconic cities and all their sights – from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the Space Needle in Seattle to the skyline of Chicago. From the Mall of America to Walt Disney World, we have it all right here.

At President Obama’s direction in January, we co-chaired an interagency task force to develop the strategy – identifying concrete steps in five key areas designed to promote these destinations and make America as number one tourism destination in the world:

China Travel Log 4: On His Final Day in China, Secretary Bryson Highlights Travel to the U.S.

Secretary John Bryson spent his last day in China in the financial capital of Shanghai.

He began his day with a group of American business leaders based in China. The leaders, members of American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the U.S.-China Business Council, exchanged ideas and shared information about the opportunities and challenges of day to day business operations in China.

As Secretary Bryson said to the group, our bilateral trade with China reached over $500 billion last year, with U.S. merchandise exports reaching $100 billion for the first time. However, with a trade deficit close to $300 billion, we still have a lot of work to do.

The Secretary then gave remarks at a tourism event, highlighting the robust and growing travel of Chinese tourists to the United States.

In his remarks, Secretary Bryson pointed out that "travel and tourism between our countries is crucial to building stronger cultural and economic ties. This generates greater understanding and friendship between our people. And yes, it also generates greater prosperity."