The U.S. Travel Association’s “Travel Works for America” roadshow visited Savannah today, where 20 national and local travel and business leaders joined U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) to discuss travel’s essential contributions to the economy. The Travel Works tour spotlights how travel powers nearly every industry and community across America.

Monday’s Travel Works roundtable, held at the Westin Savannah Harbor hotel, was also attended by U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman, Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli and Visit Savannah board members, and Mark Jaronski, Chief Marketing Officer of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, among more than a dozen other business leaders and officials. 

“The travel industry powers the U.S. economy, and its growth is reliant on an effective partnership between lawmakers and industry leaders,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “U.S. Travel thanks Congressman Carter for joining today’s discussion and advancing priorities in Congress that will improve the travel experience.” 

In 2022, travel spending generated $2.6 trillion in economic output and supported jobs for nearly 15 million American workers—including over 27,000 leisure and hospitality workers in Savannah. In the state of Georgia, domestic and international travelers directly spent $34 billion in 2021, supporting 422,600 jobs.

Barriers to Travel, Economic Growth 

While domestic leisure travel has fully returned to pre-pandemic levels and business travel is rising, challenges to international inbound travel – a lucrative economic segment – threaten a full and swift recovery. In our top 10 visa-requiring markets, travelers are experiencing year-long waits (over 400 days) for a U.S. visitor visa, a significant barrier to welcoming millions of new visitors. 

Further, visitors arriving at top U.S. airports can experience average wait times exceeding an hour at Customs checkpoints, a result of too few U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. The federal government must prioritize visa processing and ensure that airports and ports of entry are appropriately staffed to effectively compete for travelers and gain the associated economic benefits.

“Congress must focus on policies that fix issues that have resulted from a lack of federal progress on essential travel services,” said Freeman. “Waiting 400 days for a visa to visit the U.S. or 13 weeks to get a U.S. passport deters travelers—and local economies and small businesses pay the price.” 

The 2023 Travel Works for America roadshow kicked off in the Washington, DC, region in May, amplifying the industry’s impact on the economy at stops on Capitol Hill, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Old Town in Alexandria, VA. 

The next Travel Works for America stop is planned for Detroit, Michigan in September


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit for more information.



Greg Staley

Head of Media Relations

Email ›