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The re-election of Barack Obama has been welcomed by tourism leaders who praised the President’s commitment to the industry.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), said the President had supported tourism through tough economic times.
“The Obama administration has clearly understood the impact of tourism on the economy and jobs,” he told Telegraph Travel. “The historic decision of President Obama to promote visa facilitation and to increase travel from China and Brazil are excellent policy examples.
“We hope that the Obama administration will continue to support travel and tourism. As President Obama said “the more people visit the US, the more folks will get back to work.”
Tourism earnings on the rise
According to figures from UNWTO, earnings from tourism grew by 8 per cent for the US during the first six to nine months of 2012, second only to earnings from Hong Kong, which increased by 17 per cent.
US expenditure on travel abroad also increased, by 9 per cent.
In contrast, the UK recorded a modest 2 per cent growth in tourism expenditure, while Italy and France showed a decline.
America’s tourism industry – and its image as a welcoming destination – suffered during the security clampdown that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks. However, Mr Obama made tourism a key part of his economic strategy.
Travel Promotion Act
In 2010 he passed the Travel Promotion Act, which was intended to stimulate growth in the industry. The measures included a new $14 (£9) charge for foreign visitors to enter the country. The proceeds have been used to help promote the country as a tourism destination, with the creation of Brand USA, the first national tourism body for more than 20 years.
Large companies such as Marriott International, the Walt Disney Company and Best Western International have also contributed to $1million each to the project – funds which have been matched by the US Government.
The number of visitors have also bounced back in recent years. New York saw a record number of international visitors arrive in 2011 with 10.6 million arrivals compared with 9.7million in 2010.
Telegraph readers voted the US as their favourite destination at the 2011 Telegraph Travel Awards – the first time the country had received such an accolade for more than decade.