With the economic decline the country has been experiencing in recent years, the multi-billion-dollar travel industry has suffered major losses. According to the U.S. Travel Association, during the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years, the travel industry lost more than 400,000 jobs and had approximately 41 million Americans cancel their travel plans annually. Also, Commerce Department figures show that 633,000 fewer overseas travelers chose the U.S. as a destination in 2008 than in 2000.
However, experts are saying that things may be looking up for the travel industry thanks to a helping hand from Congress. In March, President Barack Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act, which formed the National Tourism Board. The board’s main objective is to coordinate advertising and drum up interest abroad in traveling to the U.S. as well as streamline visa applications for overseas travelers. This program is expected to attract more than 1.6 million visitors from around the world, which means bringing in more than $4 billion in additional consumer spending. Furthermore, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts the act will create at least 40,000 jobs in the U.S., thus helping cut the federal deficit by $425 million during the next decade.
Formerly a fragmented industry, the many parts of the travel industry now more than ever must work together rather than compete with each other to accommodate travelers. Hotels, airports, car rental companies, and even restaurants and shops should work with each other and complement each other to create smooth and well-rounded travel experiences for visitors. It seems the industry has already begun to enact these collaborations, as projections from the U.S. Travel Association show leisure travel increasing 2% and international inbound travel increasing by almost 3%. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, expresses what many people may have only now begun to realize: “Travel and tourism aren’t just fun things to do. They’re the lifeblood of the economy.”