Destinations

6 Ways the U.S. Could Improve Global Travel and 1 Reason Why It Won’t

@SamShankman

Aug 21, 2013 10:18 am

Skift Take

Tourism’s importance to the growth of the U.S. economy can not be underestimated and it deserves greater consideration by politicians at every level — especially the stubborn ones.

— Samantha Shankman

Win an All-Expenses Paid Trip to NYC to Tour the Future of Travel

Ron Cogswell  / Flickr

House of Representatives Building and the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Ron Cogswell / Flickr


The United States federal government has been significantly late to recognize and enact ways to encourage and facilitate more international travel to the U.S. It allowed visa processes to remain lengthy and unorganized abroad, and left marketing to state, regional, and city tourism boards.

It’s recently taken several steps to improve America’s attractiveness as a tourist destination by expediting visa procedures in emerging economies and launching Brand USA and marketing campaigns overseas. But it can still do better.

A number of travel and tourism initiatives were recently added to an immigration reform bill that passed through the Senate in June. The bill is now stuck in the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House is in full force touting the economic benefits of the “commonsense” reform.

The White House updated its blog on August 20 with a post outlining the initiatives that would spark tourism and the economy should the bill be passed by the House.

In 2012 alone, U.S. tourism and travel industry accounted for $1.4 trillion in economic activity and supported nearly 8 million jobs.

More efficient visa procedures overseas has already increased the number of incoming tourists coming from emerging economies. And the White House expects the number of Chines tourists visiting the U.S. to increase by as much as 229 percent over the next few years.

The following six initiatives to boost tourism and strengthen border security are included in the immigration reform:

As sensible and non-controversial as these six points are, it is highly unlikely that the current congress will move the bill through as-is. The current Republican leadership and its rank-and-file members have become well-known as one of the most intransigent group of lawmakers in U.S. history and will readily vote against things they agree with in order to prevent their opponents from being able to claim any manner of victory. Even if that means hotels, restaurants, and attractions in their districts suffer as a result.

While the financial benefit to businesses of allowing these small reforms is clear, the political hurdles may be too high to get past.

Tags: , , ,

Follow @SamShankman

Next Up

More on Skift

Daily Travel Startup Watch: Audio Trip, Local And More
How Virgin Atlantic Taught Airlines to Do Premium Economy Right
Most World Cup Attendees Were Young, Educated Males
3 Ways to Guarantee Your Next Business Trip Won’t Be All Work and No Play