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:
- Growth in international visitor numbers created roughly 175,000 American jobs over the last five years.
- The State Department issued 9.2 million visas in 2013, up 42% since 2010.
- Visa waiting periods in Brazil and China dropped from as high as 100 days to less than five days on average.
- Greece joined the Visa Waiver Program in 2010, followed by Taiwan in 2012 and Chile in 2014, for a total of 38 countries whose citizens now enjoy visa-free business and tourism travel to the United States.
- At the end of 2013, more than two million people had access to Trusted Travel Programs, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year.
- Over 30 million passengers received TSA expedited screening at 115 domestic airports.
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
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.
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.”