by Loren G. Edelstein | September 05, 2018

Leaders of the U.S. Travel Association, along with CEOs of 13 member companies, met with President Trump and senior administration officials at the White House yesterday. The conversation focused on the travel industry's essential contributions to the U.S. economy and job creation, and the critical importance of international inbound travel.
 

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association
"Our discussion with the president was simple: A strong flow of international business and leisure travelers into the U.S. reduces the trade deficit and creates an outsize number of American jobs," said the association's president and CEO, Roger Dow, left. "There is a global international travel boom, and there is a huge opportunity to greatly expand upon the already strong economy."
 
The conversation highlighted ways the administration and the travel industry can work together to achieve travel-related growth. Among the policies discussed to help improve inbound travel were expanding and enhancing secure visa policies, and supporting the Brand USA destination-marketing agency. Transportation infrastructure - which is critical to the growth of both international and domestic travel - also was discussed.
 
"The president is a keen listener whenever you're talking about growing the economy, and he was receptive to the idea that travel growth can be achieved without compromising security," said Dow. "We're grateful to the president and his senior aides for their time and attention."
 
Tori Barnes, senior vice president for government relations for the U.S. Travel Association
The meeting lasted for about an hour, with the president participating for about 20 minutes, according to Tori Barnes, senior vice president for government relations for U.S. Travel, left, who attended the meeting with Dow and U.S. Travel's executive vice president for public affairs Jonathan Grella.
 
"We definitely had a constructive conversation," Barnes told M&C. "The president and his staff are absolutely committed to continuing the conversation and working together from an industry perspective." The meeting "highlighted ways we can reduce the trade deficit, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs we can continue to create," she added.
 
U.S. Travel has worked closely with the administration, said Barnes, and with the National Economic Council in particular, although this is the first time in the current administration that the president himself has joined a meeting. Participating among the administration's staff were Ivanka Trump, first daughter and advisor to the president; Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council; and Chris Liddell, White House deputy chief of staff.
 
"Ivanka talked a lot about the White House pledge to hire and train American workers," Barnes noted. President Trump established the National Council for the American Worker in July, with the mission is "to provide a coordinated process for developing a national strategy to ensure that America's students and workers have access to affordable, relevant and innovative education and job training that will equip them to compete and win in the global economy, and for monitoring the implementation of that strategy," according to the executive order.
 
"That's something our industry wants to work with Ivanka on," said Barnes. A large percentage of people who rise in the ranks of travel and tourism ultimately earn six-figure salaries, she noted. "We see our jobs as a great avenue for upward mobility. The pledge is really to look at ways to help students or workers gain the skills they need to change careers or further their careers. We want to be helpful to the effort to employ American workers."
 
Attending the West Wing meeting were Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association, Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Phil Brown of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (attending in his role as chair of U.S. Travel's Gateway Airports Council), Kevin Frid of AccorHotels, Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels, Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels Group, George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Chris Nassetta of HiltonPatrick Pacious of Choice Hotels International, Joe Popolo of Freeman, James Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts, Arne Sorenson of Marriott International, John Sprouls of Universal Parks & Resorts and Greg Stubblefield of Enterprise Holdings.
 
The U.S. Travel Association is the national nonprofit organization representing all components of the travel industry -- a business that generates $2.4 trillion in economic output and supports 15.6 million jobs, according to industry research. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.