International tourism is a key and vital economic driver in building the U.S. economy and this month, data released by the National Travel and Tourism Office further reinstated this importance. Statistics revealed international visitors spent $21.1 billion in January and
$21.0 billion in February on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States setting a new record for U.S. travel and tourism exports. Year-to-date tourism exports totaled a record-setting $42.1 billion for the first two months of 2017, an increase of nearly 3 percent (nearly $1.1 billion) when compared to the same period last year. International visitors are opening their wallets wider than ever before. Indeed, international visitors are injecting, on average, nearly $715 million a day into the U.S. economy and supporting nearly 1.2 million American jobs.
However, recent travel bans have created anxiety among visitors and those working in this industry with many stakeholders forecasting a decrease in international visitation. To defy this, CVBs have launched creative campaigns to amplify the message that destinations are continuing to welcome visitors.
NYC & Company introduced a $3 million campaign, “New York City - Welcoming the World", to target top international visitor-source markets including the U.K., Mexico, Germany and Spain, with more pending. The goal is to reassure international travelers who might feel deterred from traveling to the U.S. and ensure them that New York City's experiences and values remain the same and all are welcome.
In the west, San Francisco Travel Association launched a marketing campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," when hippies descended upon San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to assure the world of its tolerance of new ideas and diversity, and as a center of alternative culture. And, according to a survey Brand USA conducted recently, the fastest growing inbound market for U.S. tourism – China – is not affected by the political situation in the U.S. In fact, Chinese visitors cited the political climate in the U.S. under Donald Trump has made them more likely to visit than before.
Whatever it may be, at times like this, it is pivotal that we, as ambassadors for the tourism industry continue to be optimistic, resilient and amplify the message that we welcome visitors from around the globe and can cater to their diverse holiday preferences whether it is city breaks, arts and culture, outdoor adventure or family-friendly attractions, we have it all here in the U.S. To discuss ways to promote what your destination has to offer, email Stefan Merkl.