In January 2012, US President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order approving a new government initiative to increase inbound travel to the United States. Following in May of that year, a White House task force unveiled the National Travel & Tourism Strategy (NTTS), providing a road map toward increasing competitiveness in the global tourism marketplace.

One of the primary motivations behind the initiative stemmed from a 30% loss of US market share in global travel spending. Even though from 2000 to 2010, international arrivals had jumped from 51 million to 60 million, the percentage of total worldwide travel spending in the US dropped from 17% to 11%, resulting in what the US Travel Association calls “The Lost Decade.”

State Of The US Travel And Tourism Market - Pre 2012

It’s estimated that fall off in visitation of 68.3 million international travelers over the 10-year period caused a loss of $509 billion in direct spending into the US economy.

A small part of that can be attributed to unfavorable international public opinion stemming from the war in Iraq and the rise of security bottlenecks at major U.S. gateway airports. Far more concerning, emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America were attracting increasing legions of global travelers eager to discover new vacation destinations. The US, meanwhile, was being viewed more and more as a place with nothing especially new to attract travelers.

Another motivation for the development of the NTTS revolved around the significant impact that international tourism spending has on American jobs creation. In 2010, the US travel and tourism industry accounted for 2.7% of the GDP and 7.5 million jobs—with international inbound travel supporting 1.2 million jobs alone.

U.S. GDP, EMPLOYMENT AND EXPORTS IN 2010

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/travel_and_tourism_progress_report.pdf

The power of international travel as a business driver and employment incubator was readily apparent in 2011, when tourism spending in the US increased 3.5%, compared to overall US economic growth of 1.7%. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that every additional 65 international visitors to the country supports an additional tourism-related job.

U.S. GDP, EMPLOYMENT AND EXPORTS IN 2010

US flag

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that every additional 65 international visitors to the United States can generate enough exports to support an additional travel and tourism related job

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/travel_and_tourism_progress_report.pdf

US Congress Enacts The Travel Promotion Act

Compounding the challenges at the time, the US was one of the only developed countries in the world without a national destination marketing organization (DMO), which meant the US travel industry lacked a centralized promotional vehicle to help improve national exposure and shift global perceptions.

That changed in 2010 when the US Congress enacted the Travel Promotion Act, leading to the creation of the non-profit Brand USA marketing coalition in 2012. The public/private organization launched the website DiscoverAmerica.com and distributed its first promotional campaign—”Discover America, Land of Dreams”—throughout Canada, Mexico and the UK, the top three source markets for international inbound traffic in 2010 and 2011.

U.S. GDP, EMPLOYMENT AND EXPORTS IN 2010

TOTAL TOP 20 FOR Y-T-D 2010
52,943,521 8.9% Change

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

U.S. GDP, EMPLOYMENT AND EXPORTS IN 2011

TOTAL TOP 20 FOR Y-T-D 2011
55,324,534 4.4% Change

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

For inbound business travel to the US, there’s a shift in the top source markets. The highest visitation in 2010 originated from the UK, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, India and South Korea. In 2011, the US saw a significant rise in business travelers from Brazil and China.

VISITATION TO THE UNITED STATES IN 2010: BUSINESS TRAVEL VS. PLEASURE TRAVEL

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

VISITATION TO THE UNITED STATES IN 2011: BUSINESS TRAVEL VS. PLEASURE TRAVEL

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

Presidential Strategy Plan - Boosting Tourism And Travel Economy

The National Travel & Tourism Strategy outlined five specific focus areas where the government could drive growth throughout the US tourism industry. It also established a goal to attract 100 million international arrivals by 2021, with an anticipated direct spend of $250 billion.

Those five focus areas are:

  1. Travel promotion to the US — By coordinating more deliberately with Brand USA, the NTTS states that federal agencies can help create a more high-profile message in the international travel marketplace by leveraging the government’s vast array of technological expertise, consumer travel data and senior administration spokespeople right up to the President.
    Equally important, the Federal government should share its knowledge and resources with the private travel and tourism industry, and co-sponsor promotional efforts with state and local governments in all 50 states.
  2. Improve the travel experience into the US — Suggestions to begin reducing institutional barriers for foreign visitors to enter the US included: Expanding the Visa Waiver Program, enhancing US visa processing, expanding trusted traveler programs, and streamlining arrival and security processes through additional staffing and advanced screening technology.
    In January 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing visa and foreign visitor processing goals. The most salient directives proposed regulatory improvements to expedite the arrival process, an increase in nonimmigrant processing capacity in China and Brazil, and a three-week limit to review 80% of nonimmigrant visas elsewhere. The Order also called for a new public website explaining the particulars regarding the visa process.
  3. Improve the overall visitor experience in the US — The NTTS advised that the government will support workforce development and training initiatives for small businesses invested in the national tourism infrastructure. There was also a need for a rapid rollout of non-English content and language translation services across all Federal agencies connected to the tourism industry.
  4. Better coordination across government agencies — The White House task force suggested more cooperation among inter-departmental Federal agencies, while educating agency employees about the economic and jobs impact of international tourism. The report also called for the establishment of a national travel and tourism office at the Department of Commerce.
  5. Research and measure results — In order to make the most educated investment decisions to accelerate business development, the US tourism industry requires the most up-to-date research and information about ongoing travel behaviors. The NTTS states that the Federal government will work with both industry thought leaders and academia to provide best case practices and measurement tools.

2014 White House Progress Report

In May 2014, the White House presented a progress report highlighting the impact of the National Travel & Tourism Strategy, entitled: “Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth”

President Obama’s goal of welcoming 100 million foreign visitors by 2021 is on track. In 2013, a record 69.6 million inbound passengers arrived in the US, spending an all-time high of $180.7 billion, resulting in an increase of over 9% from 2012. In addition, international visitors spent nearly $1.3 billion more per month in 2013 year over year.

Some of the other results from the report were:


The white paper profiled Houston specifically to show the impact of travel and tourism on the economy of a major US gateway city. Houston is America’s 4th most populous metropolis, with three airports that served 50.9 million travelers in 2013, including over nine million international travelers.

In 2012, travel led to $10.8 billion in total spending and $643.5 million in local and state tax revenue, supporting over 79,000 jobs. That year, Houston welcomed over 665,000 international visitors, a 12% increase over 2011. The city also hosted 348 conventions and events, drawing over 573,000 delegates and generating an economic impact of $558.1 million.

SPOTLIGHT ON TEXAS

INTERNATIONAL VISITATION:

In 2012, Houston had over 665,000 international visitors, a 12 percent increase over 2011. This was the largest percentage increase for any of the top 20 cities.

MEETINGS AND CONVENTIONS:

In 2012, Houston hosted 348 conventions, events, and shows, drawing over 573,000 delegates and generating and economic impact of $558.1 million.

TOTAL TRAVEL IMPACT:

In 2012, travel led to $10.8 billion in total spending and $643.5 million in local and state tax revenue, supporting over 79,000 jobs.

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/travel_and_tourism_progress_report.pdf

Leading up to the launch of the progress report in May 2014, President Obama met with the CEOs of America’s largest travel suppliers. Discussion revolved around the reauthorization of Brand USA, improvement of the arrival experience at America’s airports, expansion of the Visa Waiver Program to nations such as Brazil and Poland, and surface and aviation infrastructure needs.

"The President recognizes that travel is a top performer on many of his economic priorities, like job creation and the US trade balance," said Roger Dow, president/CEO of the US Travel Association. "He invited us in to ask us what we need to be able to do even better. Customs entry reform, Brand USA renewal, infrastructure improvements—we didn't hold anything back, and he listened intently to everything we had to say."

Following the release of the progress report, President Obama traveled to the US Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York to provide a public address about some of the findings. The President stated that the travel and tourism was responsible for $1.5 trillion in economic activity in the US, supplying nearly eight million American jobs, of which 1.3 million were supported by international visitors.

“When it comes to tourism, the good news is we have a great product to sell; people want to come here,” said President Obama. “So just like we’re helping our businesses to sell more goods made in America in more markets all across the world, we’re spending a lot of time and focus trying to make it easier for folks from around the world to come see America and spend money here.”

The ROI Of Brand USA

Functioning as a public-private partnership, Brand USA derived its private sector funding in 2013 from 339 travel industry partners contributing $139 million in services and cash, up from $60 million in 2012. The Federal government injected an additional $100 million through a $14 fee levied by the Department of Homeland Security on visitors from countries that qualify for visa-free travel to the US.

BRAND USA

$139 million
in services and cash
2013
$100 million
in $14 visa-free travel fee levy

The television ads debuted in 2012 in Canada, Japan and the U.K. - since those countries’ tourists have traditionally spent the most money on trips to the U.S.

339 travel industry partners

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/01/rebranding-america-can-the-us-sell-itself-to-international-tourists/283061/

Those monies are primarily distributed for the purposes of consumer media promotion in major source markets, co-op marketing partnerships with international travel suppliers, and trade outreach to travel agencies, tour operators and meeting planners.

In July 2014, the US Travel Association launched a new trend report: “Brand USA: Working for all of US” to help support the case for reauthorization. The report states that America’s official destination marketing organization generated more than 1.1 million additional visitors to the US in 2013, who spent $3.4 billion while directly supporting nearly 28,000 jobs.

In total, international tourists spent $166 billion in the US in 2012, and an estimated $179 billion in 2013, generating almost 3% of the nation’s GDP.

BRAND USA

THE COUNTRIES NEARLY 70 MILLION INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS

spent $166 billion in the U.S. in 2012, and an estimated $179 billion in 2013. The Obama administration, which launched Brand USA in 2010, wants the U.S. to attract 100 million international tourists and $250 billion of their cash annually by 2021.

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/01/rebranding-america-can-the-us-sell-itself-to-international-tourists/283061/

Meanwhile, a February 2014 Oxford Economics study—”The Return on Investment of Brand USA Marketing”—shows a return of $47 in foreign spending for every $1 invested by Brand USA’s coalition of travel suppliers.

“Brand USA allows destinations—especially smaller markets like Green Bay with lower tourism budgets—to invest in the international market,” says Brad Toll, president/CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. “So, it’s critical that this support continues and that it’s consistent…. We’re really just getting started in the international market when it comes to marketing through Brand USA. We’ve found international visitors outspend domestic visitors at least six to one. It’s a terrific market, one we want to see grow.”

The Oxford research shows comparative international regional spend on travel promotion. Of the $4.3 billion invested in tourism marketing outside US borders, the majority comes from Europe ($1.7 billion) and Asia/Pacific ($1.2 billion).

2014 US Overseas Visitation Trends

In January 2014, 2.3 million overseas visitors traveled to the US, up 9% from the same timeframe in 2013. That accounted for 45% of total international arrivals. Non-resident visits from Western Europe increased 6% in January 2014 year over year, totaling 609,000 arrivals, making up 27% of all visitors.

2014 U.S. OVERSEAS VISITATION

WESTERN EUROPE

Non resident visitors from Western Europe (609,000) increased 6 percent in January 2014.

For the month, non-resident visitors from Western Europe accounted for 27 percent of all overseas visitors.

Non resident visits from 19 out of the 20 Western European markets were up for the month.

Denmark
France
Germany
Spain
Italy
Ireland
Netherlands
Switzerland
Sweden
UNITED KINGDOM

Non resident visits from the United Kingdom accounted for 31percent of all non-resident visits from Western Europe in January 2014.

OVERSEAS

Non resident visitors from overseas countries totaled 2.3 million in January 2014, up 9 percent over January 2013. For the month, visits from overseas markets accounted for 45 percent of total arrivals to the United States.

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

In terms of the top European markets for January 2014, a total of 19 out of the 20 member countries showed increases in inbound traffic from 2013. Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark registered double-digit increases, while the UK accounted for 31% of all non-resident visits from Western Europe during the month.

2014 U.S. OVERSEAS VISITATION - "TOP EUROPEAN MARKETS"

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2010-I-001

The most heavily visited airports for international arrivals into the US in 2013 and year-to-date in 2014 are New York, Miami, Los Angels and Honolulu, with Miami moving into the top spot in 2014.

TOP AIRPORTS FOR OVERSEAS NON-RESIDENT U.S. ARRIVALS IN 2013

TOTAL TOP PORTS FOR Y-T-D 2013
32,038,458 8% Change

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/research/monthly/arrivals/

TOP AIRPORTS FOR OVERSEAS NON-RESIDENT U.S. ARRIVALS IN 2014

TOTAL TOP PORTS FOR Y-T-D 2014
2,256,000 9% Change

Source: http://travel.trade.gov/research/monthly/arrivals/

Looking Ahead In 2014 – What Will Happen To The US Travel Market

Currently, Brand USA has 11 global offices working with over 20 countries. Assuming the organization is granted reauthorization by the US Congress, Brand USA is planning an aggressive expansion into 30 markets covering 40 countries, accounting for 93% of international arrivals.

The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes, such as China, Brazil and India, is projected to grow by 135%, 274% and 50% respectively by 2016 from 2010.

U.S. GDP, EMPLOYMENT AND EXPORTS IN 2010

PROJECTED GROWTH BY 2016
COUNTRY 2010 2016
CHINA
135%
BRAZIL
274%
INDIA
50%

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/travel_and_tourism_progress_report.pdf

To address their needs, the Department of State is ramping up officer positions in China; it more than doubled consular staff in Brazil; and it’s expanding consular offices in India.

To welcome those foreign travelers, a push is underway to train US Border Guards to be more hospitable and culturally attuned to those travelers in an attempt to better the States’ reputation abroad.

Furthermore, in May 2014, President Obama directed the Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security to develop airport-specific action plans to further enhance the entry process for international travelers into the US. The President’s memorandum highlighted the successful results of streamlining operations at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare airports over a 12-month period. The initiatives at both gateways resulted in average wait times of 15 minutes and reduced the percentage of travelers with more than 30-minute wait times from 29% to 14%.

In his Cooperstown address, President Obama said that no country receives more spending from international tourists than the US. The National Travel & Tourism Strategy is designed to maintain that so the country never goes through another “Lost Decade.”

Adapting To Shift In Travel Purchase Behaviors

Helping to drive international tourism development is global travel suppliers who are offering discounts on travel all year-round. Much of this has to do with the “New Normal” following the economic downturn where travelers expect value add-ons at every turn.

Also, the exponential rise of digital shopping in all industries has led to a diverse array of suppliers providing special savings to offset the high cost of international travel today. For example, vouchercloud provide coupon offerings where significant deals on a wide range of travel products can be obtained. Sample participating companies include the likes of BA with the British Airways Coupons and Discount Codes and there are a host of travel suppliers and accommodations ranging from Accor Hotels to Budget Rent a Car.

A discount travel deal really offers the tourist more value for money and this is another good promoter for the future of boosting travel and tourism in the United States of America along with the presidential strategy in place.

Helping to drive international tourism development is global travel suppliers who are offering discounts on travel all year-round.