President Obama’s travel initiative will increase the number of affluent Chinese tourists spending money in the U.S.

Acknowledging the prominent role of the travel and tourism sector in creating jobs and powering the economy, President Obama announced that he has issued an Executive Order aimed at boosting travel and tourism during an event in Orlando, Florida.

The President announced an initiative focusing on improving travel facilitation by coordinating activity among the Department of Commerce, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security. To achieve this, the President has directed the Department of Commerce to create a task force to develop a “National Travel & Tourism Strategy.” The task force will coordinate cross-departmental efforts and ensure private sector participation.

To increase international tourism to the United States, President Obama recommends promoting unique U.S. destinations/experiences, reducing wait times for visas in rapid-growth countries such as China and Brazil, and making the U.S. Global Entry program permanent.

In remarks, the President stated, “Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try.”

“I was honored to stand with the President in Orlando as he announced that travel and tourism will be a national priority,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “Travel and tourism is among the nation’s largest employers and a top ten industry in 48 states – so this effort will benefit every community. By focusing on these high-growth sectors, the United States is poised to create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Many of the priorities highlighted by the President today are shared by the AH&LA co-chaired Discover America Partnership (DAP). DAP is a lobbying and grassroots campaign working to advance visa and entry reforms in order to regain the share of the international traveler market the United States held in 2000. By recapturing America’s historic share of international travel, the U.S. could create up to 1.3 million new U.S. jobs by 2020 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.

“While working with the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), we reported that tourism is a low-cost/high-reward prospect and one of the few industries showing positive growth,” said Nancy Johnson, AH&LA chair and executive vice president, development, Carlson Hotels, America. “Promoting travel produces a multiplier effect that benefits all industries and TTAB estimates we could add 500,000 new U.S. jobs by 2015 with no cost to tax payers. We commend the President for taking this positive step forward.”

“President Obama’s travel initiative will certainly help the U.S. hospitality industry to acquire more affluent Chinese travelers and create more jobs in luxury retail, golf industry, and shopping centers”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “In cities like New York City, hotels and retailers are now taking initiatives to attract the wealthy segment of Chinese customers, even before they arrive in the country, when they are still in China, planning their shopping trip to the U.S.”

Promoting travel and tourism remains one of AH&LA’s highest priorities. AH&LA and the Discover America Partnership will continue to work closely with Members of Congress, the Administration, and governmental agencies to highlight the incredible opportunity presented by bringing more international travelers to United States.

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Getting America ready for the Chinese Tourist Boom

Dr LiBy Dr Xiang(Robert) Li, Professor at the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management, University of South Carolina, USA.

Thanks to their sheer number and spending power, “Chinese outbound tourists” has been the buzzword in the American tourism community for a while. Our recent study showed that the United States is the No. 1 “dream destination” of Chinese citizens; and there are at least 11.5 million Chinese who have been or are interested in traveling to destinations outside Asia.  Below are some suggestions for American destinations and business interested in turning this opportunity into business reality.

Build a unifying image.

The United States needs to centralize its promotions, create a clear brand identity, and deliver the message effectively. The fragmented efforts by different American destinations and businesses could confuse potential customers.

Become more visitor-friendly.

From visa application, customs procedures, to signage in major cities and attractions, the United States needs to show genuine hospitality and respect to Chinese visitors.

Understand your guests.

The new Chinese outbound tourists are savvy global travelers. American destinations and businesses need to better understand their preferences and expectations, which starts from conducting sophisticated marketing research.

Partner with Chinese travel trade.

At the current stage, most Chinese leisure tourists still travel to the U.S. in groups. Thus, the focus of marketing communication efforts is Chinese tour operators, travel agencies, and travel media.

Grab late-mover advantage.

The U.S. is unfortunately among the last couple of developed countries obtaining the ADS (Approved Destination Status). However, this also allows American destinations to observe and learn from other countries’ experiences and lessons.

(Article previously published in “The new Chinese Tourist”, March 2009)

For more information about Dr. Li, please visit his web site at
http://www.hrsm.sc.edu/hrtm/faculty-staff/li_xiang.html.