A record one billion people traveled to another country last year. But as global travel and tourism has boomed to historic levels, tourism industry officials said the U.S. share of those visitors has shrunk by almost a third in the past decade. That’s partly because of increased U.S. security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but industry analysts say it’s also because China, Turkey and other nations have become huge tourist magnets.
So the United States is now doing what once seemed profoundly unnecessary: shelling out millions of dollars to promote America as an international travel destination. It’s an investment, U.S. officials said, in growing the economy and creating jobs in hotels, restaurants, stores and anywhere else where tourists spend money.
“The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work,” President Obama said last year in announcing an executive order designed to increase visitors by marketing America abroad and cutting red tape for tourists seeking visas.
The Obama administration, in partnership with the travel and tourism industry, is spending $150 million this year on its promotional effort. Part of it is a “Discover America” campaign that includes television commercials in nine nations, ads on the Tokyo subway, banners in London and Vancouver, Facebook pages in Portuguese and German, and Tweets about the charms of the Dakotas.
U.S. officials also have added to staff and offices in China and Brazil to speed the visa process for millions of new visitors. What do you think of this plan? Tweet us your response @sbomag