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 spending.

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 enough."

"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.


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