Today, the U.S. Travel Association says a heartfelt goodbye to Roger Dow, who is stepping down from his role as president and CEO after 17 incredible years.
Roger joined U.S. Travel in 2005 following a successful 34-year career at Marriott International. Though Roger often joked that he had no experience in lobbying prior to taking on the job as travel’s top advocate, his sharp business acumen, vast network of contacts and decades of experience created a lasting impact on the U.S. travel industry.
His leadership, complemented by an abiding sense of optimism, was essential in guiding the industry through numerous challenges over the years, from the post-9/11 travel slump to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roger was a steady voice of resilience in each of these moments, none more so than by rallying the industry to ensure all sectors of travel received the necessary relief to survive the pandemic and keep workers on payrolls. His role in reopening international inbound air travel and repealing the pre-departure COVID testing requirement was a turning point in the industry’s recovery.
Roger’s ability to unite the industry at such a critical time was a direct result of the decades of trust built with our members. His unique capacity to connect with others, forge relationships and mentor the next generation of leaders proved invaluable. It was thanks to Roger’s vision and strong relationships that so many new and diverse organizations teamed up with our industry under the Let’s Go There campaign, strengthening travel’s voice in its most urgent moment of need.
Throughout his time at U.S. Travel, Roger’s forward-thinking approach resulted in significant legislative victories, including the establishment and renewal of Brand USA. Due to these efforts—as well as his oversight of U.S. Travel’s IPW trade show and the addition of more than a dozen nations to the Visa Waiver Program—inbound travel to the U.S. has increased 61% during Roger’s tenure.
And speaking of IPW…Roger is not just a staple of the U.S. travel industry, but an icon of the global travel community. Anyone who has ever walked a trade show floor with him knows the respect and admiration that our international delegates have for Roger. The energy and productivity of IPW is a testament to his longstanding efforts to elevate the importance of professional meetings and events and the value of conducting business face to face. For his final IPW as head of the association this year, delegates from around the world came together to show their appreciation for Roger and his countless contributions to our industry.
But perhaps most importantly, Roger has been a tireless advocate of the power of travel and its capacity to bring people together. Roger’s belief that travel can break down barriers, connect those of different backgrounds and open our eyes to new and treasured experiences is the ethos of our industry; that the true value of travel is not calculated in dollars, but in the cherished memories that are made when we explore this great country and all that it has to offer.
As we say goodbye to Roger, we’d like to end on one of his favorite quotes from Mark Twain, the essence of which is at the very heart of the industry he has led for 17 years:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
Thank you, Roger, for everything.
-U.S. Travel Association Staff