Travel industry continues to boost image of a welcoming US
Friday, June 16, 2017
As members of the travel industry descended upon Washington, D.C., last week for the 49th Annual IPW conference, strong language continued to emphasize that despite political rhetoric, the United States remains open for business.
"If you want to write one story, please make it this: Business travelers are welcome to the United States period," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "And I'll add a second subheading: Brand USA is here to stay. You can quote me on that."
The theme for this year's IPW conference was "One Big Welcome," and that comes at an important crossroad for U.S. travel as President Donald Trump aims to change policies in place that could significantly affect how open the U.S. remains for international visitors.
"We want you to visit here," Dow said. "We want you to be here. We want you to send your friends here. We want to welcome you here."
At the June 6 news conference, the U.S. Travel Association released the latest Travel Trends Index showing that more international visitors came to the U.S. in April 2017 compared to April 2016. International travel grew about 4 percent in the month of April.
Since the average international visitor travels to the U.S. approximately 56.9 days after their initial travel search, the numbers are significant because these are the first numbers to be released since Trump signed his controversial executive order travel ban in January and February of this year.
"Are we surprised by this data? The honest answer is yes," Dow said in a statement. "There have been many claims that the administration's actions on travel have tarnished America's brand abroad, but we're seeing hard economic evidence of the U.S. travel sector's remarkable resilience.
"Even though we're encouraged by these strong figures, we'll continue to urge the administration to more publicly send the message that while the U.S. is closed to terror, it remains open for business. We should not take it for granted that this trend will sustain, and the 15.3 million American jobs that depend on travel are not worth putting at risk. A simple and clear welcome message will go a long way in that regard."
Dow's message of the U.S. remaining open for business was also echoed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during his speech at the IPW luncheon on June 5.
"Let me be clear — America is open for business, America is open for travel and open to the millions of international visitors who wish us well," Ross said.
Although the numbers were up in April, travel overall grew at a slower year-over-year rate in April 2017 than in March 2017.
As the travel professionals look toward the 50th Annual IPW Conference next year in Denver, they are not going down without a fight as the industry continues moving forward.
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