The International Franchise Association today joined several other business groups in the Discover America Partnership asking the U.S. Department of Commerce to take more aggressive steps to boost the U.S.’s share of the international tourism market. IFA is a member of the partnership, with IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira serving on the board of directors of the U.S. Travel Association, which runs the partnership on a day-to-day basis.
“The travel sector, always opportunistic, has continued to generate new jobs even during these difficult economic times,” said comments submitted to the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration. If the United States doesn’t get more aggressive in its outreach efforts, however, the nation risks a continued slide in its ability to attract international visitors just as world tourism ramps up.
“Travelers to the U.S. are significant customers for the nearly 825,000 franchised businesses in the U.S., including franchise business categories such as restaurants, hotels, retail products and services, business services and personal services,” said Caldeira. “Boosting travel to the U.S. will create jobs and increase economic output in the $2.1 trillion franchise industry, so what is good for the travel industry, is good for the franchise industry.”
The comments come in response to President Obama’s recent executive order calling on his Cabinet to develop additional ideas, in partnership with the travel industry, to increase international inbound travel to the United States. These ideas will help form the National Strategy for Travel and Tourism. Specifically, the comments focus on:
- Improving the visa process;
- Expanding the Visa Waiver Program;
- Supporting international travel promotion;
- Improving the entry experience at our international airports;
- Increasing student and youth travel to the U.S.;
- Improving the air travel screening and security process;
- Accelerating travel-related infrastructure projects;
- Boosting visitation at national parks;
- Improving capabilities to assist economic recovery following disasters; and others.
Worldwide travel will grow from 930 million visits to almost 1.3 billion by 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The partnership called on U.S. government officials to set a goal of recapturing a 17 percent share of the global long-haul international travel market, up from 12 percent today. Sustaining the 17 percent share through 2020 would bring an extra 98 million travelers to the United States.
The comments focused on improving the visa process by making online consular services more user-friendly, implementing mobile interviews for visa applications, and opening additional visa offices in Brazil, China and India.
The Discover America Partnership web site contains more information about the steps the travel industry is taking to boost tourism in the U.S.
Posted by Matt Haller, IFA Sr. Director of Communications