Last week was a busy one for U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow, as he did what he does best: delivered the message of just how important the travel industry is to the U.S. economy.
Dow started the week in Philadelphia, where he addressed a group of travel professionals gathered to hear the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau's final report on the Democratic National Convention, which was held in the City of Brotherly Love. And he ended by penning an editorial for CNN titled “Donald Trump should protect this hidden export.”
In Philly, Dow called on the travel industry – and on Pres. Trump – to get behind a single unifying message: "America is closed to terrorism, but wide open to everyone else."
And in his editorial, he called inbound international travel “one of the best-performing US exports that largely flies under the radar,” our “No. 1 service export, and our second-largest export overall. At $246 billion, international travel accounted for 11.2% of all US exports in 2016. According to our analysis of data from the US Department of Commerce, we enjoyed an $87 billion international travel trade surplus in 2016, larger than any other sector of the US economy. Without travel, the country's $500 billion trade deficit would be 17% larger.”
The United States welcomed more than 77 million international visitors last year, Dow noted, who spent an average of $4,337 per trip. “Even a marginal decline in that momentum could send immediate ripples throughout the US economy.”
“The administration has failed to make clear that legitimate international business and leisure travelers continue to be welcomed and valued by the United States. Data indicating softening demand for travel to the United States is likely attributable to the January 27 executive order on visas and immigration, according to multiple organizations that track travel statistics. The White House must move swiftly to correct negative perceptions of travel to the United States in order to have any hope of achieving its stated economic aims of improving the US trade balance and protecting quality domestic jobs.”
In the end, Dow said in Philadelphia, "This too shall pass. It's going to be alright. But we have work to do" lobbying the Trump administration.