With the ten year anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks approaching, the U.S. Travel Association earlier this week gave a report on the state of U.S. travel industry. But rather than just lamenting the state of travel, they gave a proactive plan to help people travel more easily to, from, and around the United States.
Roger Dow, the president & CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, told reporters on a Wednesday conference call that foreign travel to the United States has only grown 2% in the past ten years, despite a 40% increase globally in long-haul foreign travel. This also meant the U.S.’s share of foreign travelers dropped from 17% in 2000 to 12.4% in 2010, a major loss of revenue and jobs for U.S. business. Business travel, which includes association meetings and conventions, saw total volume decrease 21% in the ten year period studied. Business travel, however, has picked up and is expected to grow slowly over the next three years.
But rather than dwell on the negatives, the U.S. Travel Association has proposed a strategy to drive travel to benefit the U.S. economy. Their steps, outlined in a list of travel principles, include:
- Reducing waits at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at airports to ten minutes or less.
- Decreasing the wait times for interviews for visa applications to 10 days or less.
- Using videoconferencing in the visa application process to streamline the process.
- Establishing a domestic “trusted traveler” program to allow travelers to submit to security checks prior to arriving at an airport.