Looking to turn around a decline in international travel to the United States, the Visit U.S. Coalition this month announced a handful of policy proposals that would help ensure America remains an attractive destination to travelers from around the world.
The Visit U.S. Coalition, a group of organizations promoting the importance of international travel to the United States, recently rolled out a targeted policy agenda aimed at reversing the decline in inbound visitors from other countries.
Research prepared by the U.S. Travel Association—one of 11 founding members of the coalition, along with ASAE—shows that while global travel has increased 7.9 percent from 2015 to 2017, the U.S. market share has fallen from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent over the same period. That decline in international travel resulted in a loss of $32.2 billion in visitor spending and 100,000 hospitality jobs.
“Travel and tourism is our country’s second largest export, and we can’t afford to lose ground to other countries,” said American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) President and CEO Katherine Lugar in a news release announcing the coalition’s launch in January. “Fewer visitors means fewer hotel stays, fewer meals eaten in our restaurants, fewer goods purchased in our retail stores, and fewer visits to our national attractions. It also means fewer American jobs and a loss to our economy. We are committed to working together with the administration to balance a welcome message with strong security to ensure we don’t fall behind to other countries.”
The Visit U.S. Coalition said its policy agenda is designed to support the administration and Congress in embracing policies that will help the U.S. regain its lost share of the global travel market by 2020. The agenda includes a broad range of positions, including:
- support for Brand USA, a public-private partnership that markets the U.S. abroad
- identifying new partner countries for the Visa Waiver Program
- expanding access to travel visas and increasing the number of visa-processing facilities in high-demand countries
- expanding awareness and participation in trusted-traveler programs like Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri, and Preclearance to more international markets.
“Like the other coalition members, ASAE is concerned about the decline in international travel to the United States,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “It’s in our common interest to work with our association partners and policymakers to reverse this downward trajectory. We understand and support the need for security, but we also need to better communicate that America is a welcoming destination for international visitors.”
In addition to ASAE, AHLA, and U.S. Travel, the coalition’s founding members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and the National Retail Federation, among others.