U.S. Travel Predicts Holiday Travelers Will Spend $28.7 Billion
Travel Industry Reminds Congress to Prioritize Infrastructure In Order to Meet Growing Demand
Thu, 2015-12-17

This year’s record number of travelers hitting the road, rail or skies this holiday season will spend more than last year, according to economists at the U.S. Travel Association. AAA projects that the number of year-end holiday travelers this year will top 100 million for the first time, representing a 1.4 increase over last 2014 and the seventh consecutive year of year-end holiday travel growth.

In total, holiday travelers are expected to spend $28.7 billion, a slight but steady increase from 2014. U.S. Travel researchers and AAA attribute this growth to low gas prices, modest rises in income and continued improvement in the labor market.

Heeding calls to improve America’s infrastructure in response to rising numbers of travelers year-round, Congress in early December passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. To travel industry leaders frustrated with aging and overwhelmed highway systems, this promised funding came not a moment too soon—and renewed hope that the same attention will be paid to the rest of the nation’s transit operations, in light of consistently rising travel demand within the U.S.

“Earlier this month, we applauded the passage of our country’s first long-term transportation package in a decade,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “This important legislation acknowledged the necessity of a strong national infrastructure and the importance of travel to America’s continued economic recovery and growth, and we are particularly grateful that this year saw it signed into law.

““Year-end holiday travel and spending is great news for our industry and the U.S. economy, not to mention our families and friends across the country. However, these numbers should remind our elected officials in Washington to keep our roads, railroads and airports a priority, so that travelers can spend their time with their loved ones this holiday season instead of sitting stuck in traffic or on the tarmac.””

Previous research has shown that our roads and skies simply cannot keep up with the demand in travel. Labor Day traffic on the roads and Thanksgiving congestion in airports could soon become our new normal, and this simply will not do. Americans are not going to stop traveling any time soon, and they need a competitive national transportation system that keeps up with them. We urge Congress to take note of this, and continue to advance policies that keep travelers moving—and our nation’s economy along with them,” Dow said.

Contact 1
Contact 1 Name: 
Cathy Keefe
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ckeefe@ustravel.org
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202-408-2183
Contact 2
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Jamie Morris
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jmorris@ustravel.org
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WASHINGTON
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The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
Visit www.ustravel.org.

U.S. Travel Forecasts Huge Economic Losses if VWP Is Disrupted
Group Says Bipartisan House Bill Strong Option to Enhance Program
Tue, 2015-12-08

WASHINGTON (December 8, 2015)—The U.S. Travel Association on Tuesday hailed the House passage of bipartisan legislation to bolster the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In a statement, the group’s CEO called it a “thoughtful option to allay concerns about the program while preserving many of its economic and security benefits.”

At the same time, U.S. Travel warned that other congressional proposals to alter the VWP in the wake of terror concerns could devastate international demand for travel to the U.S., costing the American economy tens of billions of dollars.

Said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow: “Here the House has put on a textbook demonstration of how policy ought to be created—with a bipartisan, substantive, deliberative discussion of the problems at hand that rose above political gamesmanship. Our thanks and congratulations go to Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul and Rep. Candice Miller, as well as leaders on both sides of the aisle, for proving that legislating need not be a zero-sum game.”

U.S. Travel also endorses a companion to the House legislation introduced in the Senate by Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson. The association continues to oppose an early proposal from Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jeff Flake, which includes some significant flaws—notably, a measure requiring the additional collection of biometric information from VWP travelers prior to departure, which U.S. Travel has called inefficient, costly and redundant.

The U.S. could pay a steep price for missteps in amending the VWP, according to U.S. Travel research published today. Proposed new requirements such as the collection of biometric information included in the Feinstein-Flake VWP bill are seemingly redundant to existing policy and would make it more difficult for legitimate, pre-screened travelers to visit the U.S. This increased burden on VWP partner countries would without question deter a number of the 14 million first-time visitors expected to enter the country under the VWP in the next five years—along with the $54.4 billion in direct spending, $125.1 billion in total economic output and 111,000 new jobs they are projected to support.

Image of bridge and sky

If half of VWP travelers are discouraged from visiting the U.S. by harmful changes to the program, the economic cost to the U.S. would be $27.2 billion in direct spending, $62.6 billion in total economic output and 55,500 jobs supported.

But if even one in ten VWP travelers stays away, the report says, the harm would amount to $5.4 billion in direct spending, $12.5 billion in economic output and 11,000 jobs supported.

“We’re not saying that Congress should ignore security issues—we’re always the ones to say security must come first, because without security there can be no travel,” said Dow. “What we’re saying is that lawmakers need to be aware of the economic consequences of their policy decisions. We’re saying it’s possible to pass a package that lays to rest the worries about the integrity of the VWP without the negative economic fallout, and the House—and now, the Senate as well—provides evidence of that.”

Contact 1
Contact 1 Name: 
Cathy Keefe
Contact 1 Email: 
ckeefe@ustravel.org
Contact 1 Phone: 
202-408-2183
Contact 2
Contact 2 Name: 
Jamie Morris
Contact 2 Email: 
jmorris@ustravel.org
Contact 2 Phone: 
202-218-3621
City: 
WASHINGTON
Boilerplate: 

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
Visit www.ustravel.org.

THE FEINSTEIN-FLAKE VWP BILL: Unknown Costs and Unanswered Questions
Wed, 2015-12-09

The U.S. travel community firmly supports prudent security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program. What we cannot support are steps that ultimately dismantle the program and set back America's economy and our efforts to protect the homeland.

The Feinstein-Flake VWP bill contains a number of sound provisions, but there are a universe of unanswered questions that render the bill not ready for consideration. For instance, the collection of travelers’ biometric information appears to be redundant upon existing policy. Further, this legislation does not identify funding levels or facilitation and implementation plans.

Image of bridge and sky

Many layers of security screening exist when a visitor from a VWP country applies to travel to the United States: U.S. Customs and Border Protection vets travelers using all available advance passenger data and works in partnership with foreign law enforcement officials to evaluate potential risks.

The travel community is all in favor of a good-faith congressional debate about enhancements to the VWP, but if the Feinstein- Flake bill imposes redundant, costly, inefficient protocols, it could ultimately do more harm than good.

If traveling to the U.S. via the VWP becomes equally expensive and burdensome as applying for visa travel, would it not render the program obsolete? It could mean either hundreds of airports in other countries would be required by the U.S. government to install biometric stations to comply, or travelers would have to visit the U.S. consulate before traveling—just as they would for a visa interview. Either way, international travelers would be expected to pay for the elaborate, new biometric regime.

Many questions that require detailed answers must be explored well in advance of a vote to enact Feinstein-Flake.

Click here to view as a PDF.

Contact 1
Contact 1 Name: 
Cathy Keefe
Contact 1 Email: 
ckeefe@ustravel.org
Contact 1 Phone: 
202-408-2183
Contact 2
Contact 2 Name: 
Jamie Morris
Contact 2 Email: 
jmorris@ustravel.org
Contact 2 Phone: 
202-218-3621
City: 
WASHINGTON
Boilerplate: 

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
Visit www.ustravel.org.

Johnson Bill Will Enhance Visa Waiver Program; Deserves Bipartisan Support
Tue, 2015-12-08

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement today in support of Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson’s Visa Waiver Program Improvement & Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015:

“Chairman Johnson’s bill further strengthens the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), already a powerful tool in helping America fight terrorism and prevent potential enemies of the United States from entering our country. This bill is a strong reminder that even in the wake of events like the horrific terrorists attacks in Paris, Congress can put aside political gamesmanship and offer thoughtful solutions that advance our national security.

“Like Rep. Candice Miller’s bill in the House, the Johnson bill will ensure better information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement agencies. It also provides for better screening to identify high-risk travelers and makes it harder for extremists to falsify their identities and enter the U.S. on fraudulent passports. The bill will also require the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. agencies to strengthen their background checks on travelers and conduct stringent threat assessments on all VWP countries.

“Security is critical for travel, which is why the U.S. Travel Association has supported efforts to enhance the already strong VWP for the past six months.

“The Johnson bill—like the Miller bill in the House—deserves strong, bipartisan support. We urge Congress to quickly pass these VWP enhancements and send them to President Obama for his immediate signature.”

Contact 1
Contact 1 Name: 
Cathy Keefe
Contact 1 Email: 
ckeefe@ustravel.org
Contact 1 Phone: 
202-408-2183
Contact 2
Contact 2 Name: 
Jamie Morris
Contact 2 Email: 
jmorris@ustravel.org
Contact 2 Phone: 
202-218-3621
City: 
WASHINGTON
Boilerplate: 

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
Visit www.ustravel.org.

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