by Sarah J.F. Braley | February 28, 2018
The Visit U.S. Coalition has unveiled a targeted policy agenda, aimed to reverse a years-long decline in inbound international travelers to the United States.
The organization would like to partner with the administration and Congress to reverse the decline in U.S. global-travel market share that has been occurring since 2015, according to official government data. Visit U.S. says embracing policies that will securely bring in 88 million international visitors will directly support 1.3 million U.S. jobs and create a total of $294 billion in travel exports, which the organization says is crucial to achieving the administration's economic goals. This is a short-term objective that Visit U.S. says supports the longer-term visitor goal recommended by the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to the secretary of commerce.
"The president knows our business, because it's his business; he understands how important travelers and their spending are to the American economy," said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, a founding member of the coalition. "When a traveler from abroad visits one of our great destinations, it's not just money injected into the hotel and travel industry, but the restaurants they dine in, the shops where they purchase a souvenir from their trip. Tourism dollars support so many industries and jobs, and it's critical we regain our market share."
The following is the Visit U.S. Coalition's stated policy agenda:
Embrace international travel to the U.S. as a national priority. The administration and Congress should promote the United States as a premier destination and actively welcome international visitors to America. It should support travel promotion efforts around the world through Brand USA, a public/private partnership that leverages private funds and fees paid by international travelers to market the United States abroad. A senior administration official should be designated to focus on elevating travel and tourism as a national priority.
Expand intelligence sharing and streamline the travel entry process. We should build stronger international security partnerships and make America safer by developing a roadmap of new partner countries for the Visa Waiver Program, and aggressively pursue policy changes that will allow for new entrants. The VWP should be renamed to reflect the security benefits it bestows upon the U.S. and our partners.
Make America's visa system more secure and accessible to international travelers. Promote that America is "Open for Business" by expanding access to travel visas, developing criteria for 10-year travel visa validity with appropriate countries, and increasing the number of visa processing facilities in high-demand countries. Data should be gathered on the potential impact that increased utilization of secure technology will have on visa processing and addressing staffing needs at key international locations. This will allow the government to have a better understanding of trends for visa refusals in crucial/high-demand markets.
Increase security and efficiency in America's travel-screening systems at U.S. ports of entry. Expand awareness and participation in trusted-traveler programs like Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri and Preclearance to more international markets. Promote the adoption of innovative technology for a more secure and streamlined travel experience. Increase U.S. Customs and border-protection officers at our ports of entry and improve port-of-entry infrastructure.