A coalition of trade organizations has joined forces to try
and reverse the decline in international visitation to the U.S., where global
travel share fell from 13.6% to 11.9% from 2015-2017, even as global travel
volume increased 7.9%.
The Visit U.S. Coalition aims to partner with the Trump
administration to tackle the dip, calling it a "hindrance to the president's
economic goals." The coalition's founding members include the U.S. Travel
Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, National Restaurant
Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. Travel says the drop in visitation to the U.S. follows
more than five years of consistent growth. The U.S. was one of only two
destinations in the top 12 global markets to see a decline in long-haul inbound
travel since 2015, the other being Turkey. Visit U.S. contends the if the U.S.
had maintained its 2015 market share, its economy would have gained an
additional 7.4 million international visitors and $32.2 billion in additional
The data dovetails with a UNWTO report released this week
indicating that world travel increased 7% in 2017, but the U.S. had a decline.
The Coalition plans to take recommendations to the Trump
administration in the coming weeks, including increased staffing at visa
offices around the world to expedite visa issuances; more CBP officers at U.S.
borders to decrease entry wait times; and a more robust welcoming message to
the world from the White House.
Dow said during the call that the slide in inbound travelers
began before the Trump presidency, but that the administration's isolationist
rhetoric "wasn't helpful" and that the message that the U.S. is "closed
to terrorists and open for business" has "not been heard loudly
"People around the world seem to be able to separate
politics and policy," he said. "It's an opportunity to step forward
and move beyond rhetoric."
Dow reiterated U.S. Travel's oft-stated position that the
U.S. can be "both the most secure and most visited country in the world."
AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar cautioned during the call that
fewer visitors means not only fewer hotel stays, but fewer people in restaurants,
fewer goods purchased in stores and fewer visits to national attractions.
"It also means fewer American jobs and a loss to our
economy," she said. "We are committed to working together with the
administration to balance a welcome message with strong security to ensure we
don't fall behind other countries."
Other founding members of the Visit U.S. Coalition are the American
Gaming Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, International
Association of Exhibitions and Events, National Retail Federation and Society
of Independent Show Organizers.