News from US Travel Association

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11 April

U.S. Travel Hails Bipartisan Move to Extend Brand USA

Bill Introduced Thursday Would Sustain Travel Promotion Program That Has Delivered Proven Economic Benefits to Communities Nationwide

WASHINGTON (April 10, 2014)—The U.S. Travel Association today hailed the introduction of Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014, which would reauthorize Brand USA—a non-profit, public-private partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel to the United States.

The program, according to Oxford Economics, generates an estimated $47 in economic benefits for every $1 spent on travel promotion. It is funded by international visitor fees and private matching funds, with no costs being borne by U.S. taxpayers. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would reauthorize the program until 2020.

"Through partnerships with America's communities and states, Brand USA has been a powerful force in promoting our nation's destinations around the world and attracting more international visitors and their dollars," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "What's more remarkable, the program delivers these benefits all without costing U.S. taxpayers one dime."

In 2013, Brand USA increased inbound international travel to the United States by 2.3 percent, resulting in 1.1 million additional trips to America. The additional visitation spurred by Brand USA resulted in an estimated $3.4 billion in new visitor spending and $7.4 billion in increased economic output, supported more than 53,000 U.S. jobs and generated $972 million in local, state and federal tax revenue.

The program's impact is especially noteworthy considering that before 2010, the United States was the only major travel destination worldwide that did not have a national travel and tourism marketing organization.

Said Dow: "We have the evidence that states and communities stand to benefit immensely from the renewal of this tested, proven program. Thank you, Senators Klobuchar and Blunt and Representatives Bilirakis and Welch, for sponsoring this common-sense bill to ensure that Brand USA—which works for America—is here to stay. We look forward to working closely with Hill offices to pass this legislation this year."

Click here to learn more about Brand USA.

9 April

'Transparent Airfares Bill' a Start, Not a Finish

More must be done to ensure maximum transparency, value, efficiency

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2014)—U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, Roger Dow, voiced tepid support for H.R. 4156, the "Transparent Airfares Act of 2014," and urged lawmakers to incorporate further changes in the bill to provide air travelers with the full scope of the legislation's promise: a clear view of the costs built into ticket prices.

"The impetus for the bill is solid, but it could be more accurately called the 'Translucent Airfares Act' because it doesn't go far enough in providing the transparency in airfare pricing that consumers crave," Dow said. "It only gets halfway there by still allowing sites to obfuscate the full price of an airline ticket. If we're going to do this, let's do it right the first time, and finish the job.

"We appreciate that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working to improve the traveler experience, and we hope its members will make the necessary changes to ensure travelers have the most accurate and complete information possible."

H.R. 4156 purports to boost transparency by allowing increased disclosure of the taxes and fees built into ticket prices. But the bill would permit advertisers and other sellers of air transportation to hide the bottom-line cost of airfare in separate links or in pop-up windows, making it more difficult for consumers to quickly understand and easily compare "all-in" prices among carriers.

Dow argued Congress should make sure consumers have both.

"Don't just swap one kind of transparency for another," he said. "Let's take this opportunity to shine a full light on the costs associated with air travel."

Dow noted that much of the extra cost of travel funds essential services, such as security and facilities upgrades, that directly benefit the traveler. He argued it's only logical to let travelers know all of what they're paying for.

Dow also pointed out that other industry sectors—for example, car rental vendors—routinely build taxes and fees into their advertised costs.

Said Dow: "We in the travel community will fight for three basic principles in any changes to aviation fee structures. One, transparency, so consumers can clearly see all of what they're paying for. Two, value, so consumers are assured that the dollars they spend are coming back to them in the form of services and amenities. Three, efficiency, so that the travel experience is free of hassles at every stage, from when a traveler purchases their ticket online to when they step out to the curb at their destination.

"H.R. 4156 needs some work before it successfully captures all of those criteria."

4 April

Travel Industry Hits All-Time Employment High

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2014)—David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association, provides analysis on today's Labor Department employment report:

“Further solidifying its claim as one of the most crucial sectors for job creation, the travel industry banked yet another employment record in March, growing to nearly 7.9 million direct U.S. jobs. 

“The industry's previous employment high of just under 7.8 million was set in February of 2008, prior to the Great Recession.

“The industry's performance is especially remarkable given the long and harsh winter. The industry has proved its resilience by adding 31,000 jobs through the first quarter of 2014.

“The overall economy, meanwhile, continues to lag, recovering only 95 percent of jobs since the recession. Travel has added jobs at a rate 17 percent faster than the economy since the recovery began in 2010.

"The industry first touched the old record in October 2013, according to revised data, and has not looked back, posting new gains in each month since.

“One of the main reasons behind this faster growth is that travel is more export-oriented, more labor intensive, and more immune to offshore outsourcing than other sectors of the economy.

“It is essential to put the right policies in place, such as the JOLT Act, to make it easier for international visitors to come to the U.S. to conduct business through face-to-face interactions at events, including U.S. Travel’s IPW next week, and spend millions of dollars, generating solid, middle-class jobs."

Huether is available for further analysis and comment.

3 April

Click here to see the U.S. Travel Domestic Travel Market Report

2 April

Click here to see the recent U.S. Travel News Brief

1 April

Click here to see the recent Discover America