U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross drew applause and cheers from a room full of more than 6,000 global travel leaders from 70 countries Monday for a series of remarks extolling the value of inbound international visitation to the United States.
Among the remarks by Ross that drew an enthusiastic response: “This administration recognizes the power of travel as an enabling platform for business, a gateway to education, and a bridge to bring people together.”
Noting that “travel and tourism accounts for one third of U.S. services exports and 11 percent of U.S. exports overall,” Ross continued: “If there is one message for you to take away today, it is this: We are taking every measure to ensure that the U.S. remains competitive for providing a quality visitor experience, while also ensuring the safety of both our citizens and our guests.”
Ross delivered his remarks at the U.S. Travel Association’s annual IPW, the largest trade show in North America at which U.S. businesses and destinations market themselves to an influential mix of international travel buyers and journalists. Held in Washington, D.C. for the first time in its 49-year history, the theme of this year’s IPW is “One Big Welcome.”
The featured speaker at IPW’s Monday lunch event sponsored by Brand USA, Ross told the audience: “Without safety and security, there will be little travel. But…let me be clear: America is open for business. And open to the millions of international visitors who wish us well.”
U.S. Travel leaders were quick to heap praise upon Ross’s remarks.
“Sec. Ross’s speech was pitch-perfect for the international audience at IPW,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “He has a deep understanding of the economic importance of travel, and international travel in particular. And his remarks nailed the critical need to balance robust and effective security with facilitating convenient travel for legitimate business and leisure visitors.
“In honesty, a number of people probably walked into the room with misgivings about this administration’s views on international visitors, but I’m certain they walked out encouraged that the U.S. government grasps the immense value of inbound travelers,” Dow said. “Coupled with economic news that international travel to the U.S. continued its prolonged uptick at the end of the first quarter, I’m as optimistic as ever that travel will continue its role as a significant growth engine for the U.S. economy, jobs and exports.”
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.4 trillion in economic output and supports 15.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit www.ustravel.org.