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july 2015 FOGHORN 5 LETTER FROM THE executive director John Groundwater U.S. Tourism Outlook Remains Strong The travel industry in the United States is a huge contributor to the economic health of our nation. According to researchers at the U.S. Travel Association USTA in 2013 the travel industry contributed more than 2 trillion to the economy. In addition approximately eight million people were employed in 2014 throughout the travel industry in a variety of jobs and activities with an estimated payroll of more than 221 billion. An addi- tional seven million jobs were created in related indus- tries. Further USTA estimates that travel and tourism represents 2.7 percent of our gross domestic product GDP. Travel Trends A recent New York Times article Where Will Americans Travel in 2015 cited that when Americans travel they tend to stick close to home. It cites that when it comes to domestic travel Americans gravitate to the Border States. Not surprisingly the author says that California will be the most popular domestic destination for 2015 accounting for more than 134 million tourists. Texas is expected to come in at second place with an estimated 69 million visitors and third is New York with 55 million expected visitors. While USTA researchers are forecasting a slight decline in total domestic expenditures in 2015 by Americans they expect an increase in visits and expen- ditures by international visitors. Underscoring these op- timistic forecasts the U.S Department of Commerce last month released new data forecasting that international visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States will reach a record 77.6 million in 2015. This is up 3.6 percent over 2014. In 2012 President Obama launched the National Travel and Tourism Strategy with the goal of attracting by 2021 100 million international visitors to the United States with estimated expenditures of 250 billion. According to the Commerce Departments current forecast it expects to see an increase of between 3.8 and 4.6 percent in international visitors between 2015 and 2020. By year-end in 2020 the administration projects that 96.4 million tourists will travel to the United Statesa 29 percent increase over 2014. In addition tourist visits from all but one of the current top-20 visitor countries are expected to grow by 2020. The Commerce Department expects the largest growth from China 163 percent Colombia 54 percent India 42 percent Mexico 37 percent and Taiwan 33 percent. Venezuela is the only country expected to decline over this same period. In addition three countriesChina Canada and Mexicoare expected to account for 61 percent of the growth between 2014 and 2020. To quantify the economic benefit to the U.S. economy USTA researchers estimate that in 2013 international travelers spent 215 billion on products goods and services while in the country.According to USTA this represented 31.2 percent of all U.S. service exports and 9.4 percent of all U.S. exports of goods and services. Given the strong forecasts for increasing international travelers visiting the United States and its corresponding importance to our economy it is critical that our federal regulatory policies help pave the way for smooth entry into the U.S. for international travelers. Speeding up visa clearances and modernizing U.S Customs and entry pro- cessing is central to this. Of course this must be accom- plished without undercutting security. Along these lines PVA has joined with other aligned organizations to actively seek approval of the JOLT Jobs Originating through Launching Travel ActH.R. 1401. This bill was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Joe Heck R-NV and Mike Quigley D-IL. They believe that the bill will serve to attract as many as 98 million more visitors to the United States create American jobs and generate as much as 859 billion in revenue by 2020. To accomplish this the bill seeks to increase international tourism to the United States by amending and strengthening the Visa Waiver Program VWP which is part of a layered approach to national security that protects the homeland and the traveling public. VWP enhances national security through individualized pre-screening of travelers greater information sharing enhanced international partnerships with law enforcement and intelligence services and more secure passports for participating countries. The VWP is administered by the U.S. Department of State. We will continue to work on this and other programs to help promote a strong and expanding U.S. tourism market that will benefit PVAmembers and our nation. In the meantime please let me know whenever we can be of assistance to you. Sincerely John R. Groundwater Executive Director n