The travel industry continues to be an "economic powerhouse," according to U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, who recently delivered an upbeat "State of the Travel Industry" address via a video message to the industry.
The first address in what is intended to be an annual series, Dow's message celebrated the travel industry's above-average growth rate and emphasized the need for travel-friendly policies that will perpetuate growth rather than stunt it.
"The dynamism of our industry was on full display last year, setting records across the board -- 2.1 billion domestic trips; 74 million in international visitors; $927 billion in travel expenditures; and 8 million workers directly employed in travel jobs," stated Dow, who said continued growth hinges on three industry priorities: protecting and advancing the Visa Waiver Program; improving travel facilitation, such as the entry process; and modernizing America's travel infrastructure and airports. "Modernizing America's travel infrastructure, including airports and the air travel system, is central to our nation's long-term success … This starts with Congress reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Surface Transportation programs this year."
With regards to current economic conditions, including low gas prices and a surging U.S. dollar, Dow expressed optimism. "Gasoline prices … have fallen to the lowest level since May 2009. Persistent low prices are good for travel, as people are more likely to hit the road for trips and will have greater purchasing power for other goods and services," he said. "Since mid-last year, the strength of the dollar has increased by about 7 percent. This is good news for Americans, but what does it mean for inbound international travel? It would take some time for a sustained change to the dollar to have an affect here … [T]he cost of consumer goods here in the U.S. remains lower compared to many other major economies around the world."
To see Dow's address in its entirety, watch it on Vimeo.
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