U.S. Predicts Record Inbound Visitors, as Global Travel Soars
by Maria Lenhart /

U.S. Sees Impressive Growth in Visitor Arrivals
Inbound visitor totals to the U.S. are forecast to rise 4% in 2013, surpassing last year’s record-breaking numbers, according to the U.S Dept. of Commerce. Some 69.6 million international visitors are expected to stay one or more nights in the U.S. this year. That growth rate, predicted in the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries’ 2013 Spring Forecast, will be fairly consistent through 2018, when visitors are expected to number 84.6 million – an increase of 26% over 2012.

Visitors from four countries are expected to account for 68% of the projected growth from 2012 through 2018: Canada (30%), China (19%), Mexico (12%) and Brazil (7%). Growth will come from all world regions, ranging from a low for the Caribbean (+1%), to a high for the Middle East (+67%), Asia (+60%), and South America (+52%).

Global Tourism Climbs to New Heights in 2012
International tourism receipts set a new record in 2012, reaching an estimated $1,075 billion worldwide, up 4% from $1,042 billion in 2011, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This growth mirrors a 4% increase in international tourist arrivals globally, which reached 1.035 billion in 2012.

“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equaled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors.”

By regions, the Americas recorded the largest increase in receipts (up 7%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+5%) and Europe (+2%). Receipts in the Middle East were still down (-2%) yet showed a steady improvement compared to the decline recorded in 2011.

More Women Entering Tech Side of Travel Biz
“As a young woman in travel technology, I still find myself very much in the minority at tech conferences. But I do see a lot more women going into the technology side of travel. There’s a heavier influx of women going into start-ups or launching their own ventures. There are not so many biases that say women are not good in technology. It’s been refreshing to see how many female engineers we’re hiring at Sabre.” – Sarah Kennedy Ellis, director-travel studios, Sabre Holdings

Six New Members Appointed to U.S. Travel Advisory Board
A sustainable tourism expert and a Native American tourism rep are among six new members appointed to the U.S. Travel Advisory Board. The board, established in 2003, serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry. The new members are:

•    Brian Mullis, founder and CEO, Sustainable Travel International, White Salmon, Wash.
•    Trudy A. Rautio, president and CEO, Carlson, Minneapolis
•    Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, executive director, Puerto Rico Tourism Company, San Juan, Puerto Rico
•    Sherry Rupert, vice president, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Albuquerque, N.M.
•    William D. Talbert, president and CEO, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
•    Betsy Wall, executive director, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Boston

Mullis, who has designed and developed sustainable solutions for destinations and businesses in 40 countries, said his appointment “demonstrates the increasing importance of sustainability to the national tourism strategy.”

Rupert, the sole Native American on the board, said her appointment gives Native American tourism a seat at the table. “The travel and tourism industry is so important to our nation's economy and important to many of our tribal communities," she said. "This opportunity is a huge step forward for Indian country.”

ASTA Announces New Hires
ASTA has hired Susan Verdolini-Sheats to serve as vice president-business development. She is charged with leading the organization’s strategic alliance and Allied Member outreach and management. Most recently Verdolini-Sheats held a similar position with the Global Business Travel Association. Also new to ASTA is Bill Lawrence, director-partner programs.  Lawrence was a member of the CCRA Travel Solutions Hotel Partner Team, working with hotels, resorts and other suppliers on marketing and sales projects for travel agents and agencies.

The travel and tourism industry is so important to our nation's economy and important to many of our tribal communities. This opportunity is a huge step forward for Indian country.

Sherry Rupert, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Assn.