President Trump gave the second State of the Union (SOTU) address of his presidency Tuesday—a near-record-breaking 82-minute call for bipartisanship that included remarks on job growth, infrastructure, trade and an off-the-teleprompter comment on legal immigration.
U.S. Travel was encouraged by Trump’s attention to these issues. Some highlights on how our industry’s goals align with those outlined by the president in his address:
Job growth is essential to the American economy
Trump touted the job growth that has taken place under his administration, and noted the 304,000 added in January. That includes 33,500 travel-generated jobs—the largest monthly employment gain for the industry in nearly three years.
Job creation has always been a top priority of both the Trump administration and U.S. Travel. When U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow and our corporate members met with the president and Ivanka Trump late last year, the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers was one of the topics discussed. A handful of U.S. Travel member companies signed on to the pledge, backing the idea that job training programs are key to growing and increasing the skill of our workforce. There are 15.6 million travel-related jobs spread across every congressional district in the country, and travel jobs are proven to provide ample upward mobility.
Legitimate business and leisure travel is good for America
Remarking on immigration, Trump declared, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally."
U.S. Travel was pleased to hear Trump say he is generally supportive of qualified people coming to the U.S. under the proper circumstances. U.S. Travel strongly advocates for robust inbound international visitation, supported by policies that allow—as the president stated—qualified people to come here legally and securely for business or leisure purposes. The economic benefits are simply too compelling to ignore. We are committed to working with the president and Congress to achieve this vision.
The U.S. should endeavor to have the world’s most modern infrastructure
Trump implored both political parties to work together to advance solutions to aging and strained U.S. infrastructure. “This is not an option,” said Trump. “It is a necessity.”
We couldn’t agree more. Improving all of our infrastructure systems is key to keeping pace with a rapidly-modernizing world, and our national approach must include our air travel infrastructure. The U.S. does not have a single airport ranked in the top 25 globally; those lists are dominated by destinations in Europe and Asia, who are our prime competitors for international tourism dollars. Safe, efficient air travel is key to GDP growth, and we are eager to see Congress take up a comprehensive infrastructure package.
Travel can help slash the trade deficit with China
Trump presented an optimistic outlook for the historically lopsided U.S.-China trade relationship, stating, “We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.” Trump spoke positively of his discussions with Chinese President Xi, and emphasized a desire to include “real, structural change” to end unfair trade balances.
Just this week, the Department of Commerce reported the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China fell to $37.9 billion in November from the $43.1 billion registered in October. While the narrowing of the gap is good news, there is an industry that continues to run a surplus with China: travel. In the third quarter of 2018, the U.S. enjoyed a travel trade surplus of $9.8 billion with China. Trump has long called for a reduction in the overall U.S.-China trade deficit, and backing pro-travel policies that make it easier for qualified Chinese travelers to visit the U.S. can help.
Increasing legitimate travel to and within the U.S. is always our mission—and it aligns perfectly with many of the president’s objectives for job growth, legal immigration, modernizing infrastructure and trade. As always, we stand ready to advise and assist the administration and Congress, and are eager to see the president’s SOTU priorities put into action.