U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow laid out a vision of a bright future for the American travel industry—and the policy framework that can help achieve it—before an audience of stakeholders, media and policymakers at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
Dow opened by acknowledging the coronavirus public health emergency and U.S. Travel‘s engagement with public health officials before addressing the industry’s recent successes, contrasting the post-9/11 “Lost Decade” of travel to the visitation and spending records set in the “Comeback Decade” of the 2010s.
To emphasize this expansion and the benefits travel provides American workers, Dow shared several stories of travel workers that highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of the industry.
“We’re proud to do this work because we do it on behalf of an amazing industry: an industry that offers limitless possibilities, that is driven by endless innovation, delivers life-changing experiences, and fulfills the aspirations of millions of American workers,” said Dow.
Dow also noted the significant legislative wins achieved during the past year’s challenging political environment, including Brand USA’s seven-year reauthorization and the enactment of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
While the travel industry faces headwinds in the next year, from public health emergencies to trade tensions, Dow reaffirmed the industry’s strong position to expand its advocacy reach and effect sustainable, measurable growth in 2020 and beyond.
Strategies to expand and strengthen the travel industry include:
- Promoting travel through trade by elevating travel’s role as a vital U.S. export, and ensuring that travel has a seat at the table for crucial trade negotiations with Japan, the U.K., the EU and China.
- Enhancing security by leveraging the industry’s already-strong leadership to create a seamless travel experience by deploying biometric innovation, improving the REAL ID Act through policy changes, alleviating security chokepoints and expanding successful trusted traveler programs.
- Spurring pro-travel commerce through the promotion of responsible economic incentives, pursuing travel-friendly improvements to the U.S. tax code, pushing for long-overdue investments in infrastructure and our national parks, and accelerating new advances in the future of travel mobility.
- Promoting a sustainable travel industry through innovative solutions such as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport becoming the first carbon-neutral airport in North America, the Colorado Tourism Office’s “Are you Colo-ready?” program, and Visit California’s statewide Destination Stewardship plan that outlines principles and sustainability opportunities and practices for industry partners.
Importantly, Dow said, the industry must have its sights set beyond the horizon and focus on advancing priorities that will endure for years to come.
“We’ve built a pretty ambitious agenda, but it aligns perfectly with an industry as ambitious and invigorated as travel,” said Dow. “We’re betting big on the future because we know what our industry can achieve if we unite behind a vision, join together to advance common goals and put our shared interests first.”
U.S. Travel will continue to work alongside our valued members to advance advocacy priorities that move travel forward into a new era of growth and innovation.