Trump’s Davos Opportunity
January 24, 2018 By Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association
At the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering, POTUS has an excellent platform to tell the world that America is closed to terror, but open for business.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos is underway. Global travel should be a major topic of interest for the group, as it is a major economic driver. Travel is the source of $246 billion in exports for the U.S., and the need to increase the United States’ share of the travel pie is something President Trump should embrace and can address.
Davos provides an excellent opportunity for him to advance American economic interests by sending a needed message of welcome to the world.
Our country’s share of the competitive international travel market is shrinking, and has been since 2015. This is due to a variety of complex factors, including a strong U.S. dollar, global economic instability and negative perceptions about U.S. security policies and rhetoric. Compounding that are the results of the2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, released earlier this week, which shows that trust in the U.S. has dipped worldwide.
Even with the current strength of the stock market and low unemployment, the U.S. economy will suffer unless we turn this trend around. Just a 1.7 percent drop in America’s international travel market share has cost the U.S. economy four million additional visitors, $32.2 billion in additional spending at American businesses and—most importantly—100,000 additional jobs that could have been created if we had simply maintained our 2015 market share level as global travel volume grew.
As White House Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said this week, the president will use meetings with global CEOs at Davos to invite investment in America—and tell the world that “America is open for business.” We wholeheartedly support that effort. Encouraging the world to travel here and see firsthand what makes America great should be part of the president’s messaging agenda.
International business deals are made every day because of an experience someone had on a vacation, or during a business trip or conference. People cannot envision investing in a country they haven’t been to—or in which they don’t feel welcome. Davos is an excellent place to send a travel-specific, welcoming message that aligns perfectly with the president’s stated economic goals. The fact is that President Trump needs strong international travel numbers to achieve his stated goal of three percent annual GDP growth.
That’s why the Visit U.S. Coalition, which launched this month, aims to partner with the Trump administration to reverse the decline in international visitation to the U.S. and advance policies that securely welcome legitimate international travelers. Doing so will help the president realize his economic goals.
The travel industry knows that the president understands the importance of a strong brand, and effective marketing—and during his visit to Davos, we encourage him to reaffirm his commitment to growing the U.S. economy by welcoming more international visitors to see and invest in America.
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