Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO Jack Ferguson joined travel leaders from across the country at the White House on Wednesday, April 29, for a candid discussion with senior Obama Administration officials about how international trade policies affect various business sectors, including travel.
Several pivotal trade measures are currently under consideration in both chambers of Congress—foremost among them Trade Promotion Authority, which would expedite the president’s negotiation of key agreements with international trading partners. U.S. Travel and its members earlier in this legislative session came out in strong support of the measure.
According to U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, sound trade agreements have profoundly benefited the national economy, helping generate $222 billion in travel exports in 2014 alone. Nationally, travel accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. exports, and in 2014 accounted for one out of every nine new U.S. export dollars. On its own, travel generated a trade surplus of $75.7 billion dollars last year, versus an overall U.S. trade deficit of $515 billion. Without travel, the overall U.S. trade deficit would have been 15 percent larger. International travel to Philadelphia increased 13% from 2012, which are the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Office Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI).
Eight U.S. Travel Association members attended the trade event, which featured Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Holleyman, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Greg Nelson, Director and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Jeffrey Zients, Executive Director, National Trade and Tourism office, Department of Commerce Kelly Craighead and other senior executive branch personnel.
Other U.S. Travel members in attendance included Phil Brown, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority; Julie Chase, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau; Richard Constable, Wyndham Worldwide; Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon; Alfredo Gonzalez, VISIT FLORIDA; Kevin Langston, Georgia Department of Economic Development; Ernest Wooden Jr., Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. U.S. Travel Association Vice President for Government Affairs Patricia Rojas-Ungár also attended.