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The U.S. Travel Association is making structural changes as it doubles down on domestic leisure travel growth after listening to membership feedback and working to reverse a three-year decline in international travel to the United States.
U.S. Travel, the industry’s Washington, D.C.-based lobby group, finally got its foot in the door with President Donald Trump at a White House meeting on Tuesday where international visitors were discussed. But the upcoming structural changes and focus on domestic tourism, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the U.S. travel industry, were in the works before the meeting took place.
The increase in domestic tourism advocacy will include areas the organization has lobbied on such as U.S. national parks, infrastructure, and getting more travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck.
The organization will also continue to focus on international travel growth which has long been its mission. “U.S. Travel is responsive to its members and always looking to sharpen our membership value proposition,” said Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs. “In an effort to better meet our industry’s needs, we are making structural changes that prioritize advocacy, particularly in the domestic leisure realm.”
The organization surveys its 1,300 members, which include travel sectors such as tourism boards, hotels, and attractions, and its board and executive committee each year. For the past two years, it has received overwhelming feedback to bring domestic leisure tourism advocacy into its fold. The organization’s Project: Time Off program, which analyzed U.S. travelers’ vacation data, will be shut down as part of the change and three employees part of the program were laid off.
No other executives are leaving the organization as a result of the change. U.S. Travel currently has about 60 full-time employees, 140 board members, and about 40 members on its executive committee.
U.S. Travel had about $34 million in revenue in 2017, about a five percent increase year-over-year, and is funded through membership fees. The revenues also include board membership fees, and event and program sponsorships at conferences, such as its annual IPW trade show, one of the U.S. travel industry’s largest events.