US seeks to boost and diversify international tourism with new plan

US seeks to boost and diversify international tourism with new plan

Skift grip

The U.S. Department of Commerce is seeking to accelerate the recovery of global tourism to the United States by moving away from cumbersome paper systems and promoting the United States beyond popular coastal destinations.

Tom Lowry

The U.S. Department of Commerce will unveil a new strategy on Monday aimed at boosting international tourism hard hit by COVID-19 and government travel restrictions by streamlining the entry process and promoting more diverse destinations.

The “National Travel and Tourism Strategy” sets a target of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend about $279 billion a year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, the department told Reuters.

“There are a lot of industries that are well past COVID — travel and tourism are not,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview.

The federal government must do more to support the resurgence of travel and tourism to ensure the industry rebuilds to be “more resilient, sustainable and fair”, according to the draft strategy document seen by Reuters.

In 2019, the United States had 79.4 million international visitors, a figure that dropped to 19.2 million in 2020 when the pandemic hit and rose to just 22.1 million in 2021.

International visitors spent $239.4 billion in 2019, but only $81 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said.

Before COVID, tourism supported 9.5 million jobs in the United States and generated $1.9 trillion in economic output.

One of the goals of the strategy is to modernize entry procedures for visitors to enter and travel to the United States.

“We need to streamline the entry process,” Raimondo said. “It’s heavy and very paper-based and we want to move to a more digital process.”

Other goals include promoting more diverse U.S. tourism experiences beyond coastal states, reducing tourism’s contributions to climate change, and building an industry resilient to natural disasters, public health threats, and climate change. impacts of climate change.

One of the reasons tourism has fallen so sharply is that the United States has lagged many other countries in lifting COVID border restrictions that barred much of the world from entering. US rules were not relaxed until November 2021.

The United States still requires foreign nationals to be vaccinated against COVID and that almost all international air passengers test negative before travel. US airlines say nearly every other country they serve does not require testing.

Raimondo acknowledged that the tests are a “barrier” to tourism and that the United States is an “outlier,” but did not predict when those rules might be relaxed.

“I hear a lot about it in the industry and I’ve expressed it to the administration,” Raimondo said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jamie Freed)

This article was written by David Shepardson of Reuters and has been legally licensed through Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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