Hoteliers are at the forefront of efforts both nationally and internationally to improve travel and tourism in the United States. Simply put, travel and tourism are two of the most important components of our growing American economy and workforce, generating $2.1 trillion a year in economic output, $141.5 billion in tax revenues, and supporting over 15 million jobs.
In fact, 1 out of 9 American jobs depend on travel and tourism, and travel is among the top 10 industries in 49 states and D.C. in terms of employment. Eighty-four percent of travel and tourism-related companies are considered small businesses, driven largely by hard-working hotel owners.
Despite the clear economic impact of tourism funding and the return on investment it generates for taxpayers, many states continue to cut funding to their tourism promotion programs. When money is cut from tourism promotion, hoteliers in those states are put at a severe disadvantage in marketing their businesses and attracting customers.
AAHOA supports efforts at the state level to increase tourism funding and improve strategies for effective tourism promotion. The AAHOA Government Affairs team will continue to advocate on behalf of budget proposals that reflect the importance of travel and tourism on economic growth and job creation.
AAHOA supports the reauthorization and preservation of Brand USA, a public-private partnership that markets the U.S. to international travelers around the globe - at no cost to taxpayers.
This highly successful program brings millions of additional international travelers to the U.S. each year by promoting the U.S. as a destination. Fees, paid by international travelers, are matched dollar for dollar by private industry, giving Brand USA up to a $200 million annual budget. Every $1 invested into Brand USA returns $27, and the program supports over 51,100 American jobs.
Without congressional action, Brand USA's federal funding mechanism, the ESTA fee, will be diverted to a general fund after 2020. This would leave this successful program without a committed funding mechanism and could make it more challenging for the U.S. to claim its share of international visitors.
Secure Travel Partnership Program
International visitors are a key contributor to the American economy. On average, they spend $4,500 per person during their visits which supports good American jobs, especially in the hospitality industry.
Currently, the citizens of 38 countries can travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to go through the process of obtaining a visa, but this can and should be extended to other select countries.
Unfortunately, the process to obtain a visa is outdated and needlessly complicated, meaning that some travelers who would otherwise visit the U.S. may look elsewhere when planning their travel.
AAHOA supports the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2019 (H.R.2187), bipartisan legislation that seeks to bring U.S. visa regulations into the 21st century and make it easier for international visitors to travel in and out of the country while maintaining necessary security protocols.
By streamlining the secure travel partnership program, the JOLT Act would bring more travelers to the U.S. and create more business for hoteliers and all facets of the travel and tourism industry. This opens the door for greater job creation, increased worker wages, and overall business expansion.
As coalition partners with the U.S. Travel Association, AAHOA will continue to support measures to increase the number of international visitors to the U.S. while maintaining our security.