WTTC: U.S. inbound tourism to see growth

NEW YORK -- Get ready for an influx of European visitors, and growth for the U.S. travel and tourism industry.

That was part of World Travel & Tourism Council president Jean-Claude Baumgarten's message Friday to the New York Times Travel Show Tourism Industry Conference in New York.

The European invasion owes to the strong euro and pound, relative to the U.S. dollar.

The WTTC forecasts that the U.S. travel and tourism industry in 2004, benefiting from "strong" European visits, will "post nearly $100 billion [and that's up 14.7% compared with 2003] in total visitor exports."

The WTTC added that U.S. travel and tourism demand -- including investment, government spending and exports -- will rise 7.3% to $1.5 trillion in 2004.

"We are cautiously optimistic that the corner has been turned for travel and tourism," Baumgarten said. "After nearly three years of gloom and doom, we're expecting the pent-up domestic demand to surge in the U.S. while inbound visitors, especially from Europe where the euro and pound are particularly strong, are expected to provide a much-needed boost to the industry."

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