Will Travel Promotion Act Increase Incoming Tourism?

While the President of the United States signed the Travel Promotion Act into Law today, observers are wondering how the US can charge foreign visitors tourist to majorly fund the Act and at the same time via commercials and advertising trying to lure them.

Is Washington DC operating on funny weed?

Is Washington DC operating on funny weed?

Today President Barack Obama signed into law the Travel Promotion Act, a measure that will set up an 11-member board to develop a national multi-channel marketing campaign to draw foreign travelers and provide information on travel policies.
Industry executives have been pleading for this act for several years, claiming that the US does not do anything to promote and aggressively market the destination.  They say the act can help strengthen the U.S. economy and revive the sector, which has taken a hit as the recession dampened demand for air travel and led consumers to cut back discretionary spending at hotels and restaurants.

Some industry sources point out that there are lessons to be learned from other countries that use aggressive marketing campaigns to attract visitors with the argument that we’re a marketing and messaging-driven economy where the product needs to stay in front of customers.
Strengthened by claims from Industry “experts” such as Oxford Economics, a United Kingdom-based independent consulting firm, the estimated result ranges from this initiative could bring in as many as 1.6 million new visitors to the United States a year and create 40,000 U.S. tourism jobs.

Thankfully there are also those in the travel industry that express concern about a $10 fee that will be charged every two years to visitors from countries that participate in the Visa waiver program. That fee, along with voluntary private sector contributions, will be used to pay for the program.
IATA, the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airlines worldwide expresses concern about retaliatory action by other countries that will only make air travel even more cumbersome and expensive. It is the Association’s opinion, and I am squarely behind them in that observation, that national resources would best be directed toward addressing barriers faced by global travelers in the United States.

In all my conversations and discussions with Europeans, all prime visa waiver countries to the US, it always comes out strong that they don’t want to be exposed to excruciatingly long lines at immigration points after an 8 to 10 hour flight across the Atlantic. Even though they all look favorably on America’s culture and people, they are looking elsewhere for their leisure needs just to avoid the hassle of air travel.

Most Europeans Know America’s attractions better than people in the US

At least as far as those groups that can afford to travel long distance. They have grown up with American TV, glossy magazines and GI Joe. I grew up 12 miles from Afcent Central Europe Command in the South of the Netherlands. People all over Europe have experienced long exposure to American culture and people. Not traveling to the US has nothing to do with attraction. There is plenty of that. It’s about making America friendly and accessible again by for example, cutting the time and growing expense required for foreigners to obtain a visa and minimizing security hassles at U.S. airports. Teach TSA personnel that travelers contribute to the economy and them having a job. If a marketing campaign can focus on improving perceptions about traveling to America, and actually make it easier, foreign tourism will increase.

Just to get an appointment at a US embassy in many countries carries a hefty fee. Being treated with disrespect or like second or third world travelers by TSA is not a way to attract foreign visitors. And neither is increased advertising. Foreigners know about New York, Miami Beach, Georgia’s Stone Mountain and the Stars on Hollywood Boulevard. They know about the majestic Rocky Mountains or the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Natchez Trail. They know about New Orleans, Disney World, Seaworld and Busch Gardens. They will come for these attractions in diminishing numbers, because they have them over there as well. If Disney builds a new Disney World in Shang Hai, why would we expect Chinese to come and visit here in Florida or Anaheim?

Hollywood controls the world’s cinemas and TV screens. Its soaps, sitcoms, dramas and feature movies portray American life, good or bad. It’s a non stop advertising commercial for every form of adventure to beach resort travel. No need to spend extra money there.

The U.S. Travel Association said there has been a drop in overseas travel to the United States each year since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Last year, 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors came to the United States than in 2000, it said.

The estimated industry job losses are around 400,000 in the past 10 years and that is not going to be any better by putting millions in aggressive advertising and marketing. The only, absolutely only way to improve those numbers, is by keeping air travel affordable and a pleasure, like it used to be, with a smile at the Immigration desk, where an polite person says: “Good afternoon, sir/madam, how was your flight”, and quickly checks papers and moves on.

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s traveling to the US was a blast, except for a short period in the early Reagan administration when traffic controllers went on strike. The food was good and the airport receptions were friendly and accommodating. Be friendly again and numbers will go up.

In the next couple of days I will publish a special regional take on tourism that may benefit Northeast Florida if the powers that be, would listen and act. My credentials? Oh I don’t know, 40 years of global travel to every corner of the world, having developed, built and operated a handful of resorts and marinas in Europe and the Caribbean and many years of seeing air travel go into the wrong direction. I used air travel 3 -5 times a month. Now I cannot even get myself to Jacksonville “Int’l” and jump on a flight if I can get the job done with Skype and my laptop. It’s just too much hassle.

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10 Comments

  1. green branz

    TIA also following USA's first significant investment in a Tourism Board. http://www.greenbranz.org

  2. publisher_sa

    Green branz. Thanks for pointing that out all the way from New Zealand. Fact is I did not want to introduce the political implications of this Travel Promotion Act at this stage, as I think that it only clutters the issue. The tourism industry in the States is big enough to have its own lobby, but a Washington sanctioned tourist board will feature only the big boy players, such as Airlines, Large Hotel groups and do very little at the root of the problem. But yes, you're right in that sense it is a first.

  3. tommylee

    Right on the money, publisher. Standing in line at immigration is an act of fear rather then pleasure. Not so much for myself but being surrounded by fellow “aliens” (a word to get rid of b.t.w. because we're not from Mars but globe trotters from mother Earth) peeing in their pants to say the wrong thing to the immigration officer, discussing the “inquisition” questions and answers would be amusing. Yet the sad reality is that it is a reality that legitimate travelers, business and tourism, are treated like school children to “Ubermensch” gestapo tactics. Nothing to be amused about if you realize that people that have gone through the very expensive and derogatory inquisition of obtaining a Visa at any of the embassies while having to go through the same the moment they arrive and stand in line before the immigration officer. I've had the questionable pleasure up close and personal to witness the process and none of it is more enlightening why tourism numbers are dropping and will continue to drop.

  4. tommylee

    Let me add before getting attacked that once you pass the Inquisition it only gets friendlier and the American people are in general helpful, inviting and generous in their hospitality. It's just the entry barrier that gives the first impression you're entering a concentration camp. There is nothing wrong with being thoroughly “inspected” but it can be done with a smile rather then with the impression that you're guilty until proven innocent.

  5. meghannb

    I think it will be a great benefit to have this new tourism group to help promote the US in general, can't believe you are the only country who does not. Of course individual states promote themselves but a good commercial can do wonders for people trying to decide on where to travel to. Our commercials for the Olympic games here in Canada were just great and when you can evoke an emotion in people you'd be surprised to see how it helps you to make up your minds…good luck and hopefully tourism will grow

  6. Pingback: The Travel Promotion Act is signed, but the structure and priorities are unclear.

  7. Davis Miller

    Point Break – A Perfect Bar Experience in NYC

    A local friend recommended and took my Cali group to this amazing bar. He said that mostly locals came here so I didn't really know what to expect ambiance wise… but screw it, the view at this bar was absolutely breathtaking! No joke. I felt like a celebrity w/ superstar treatment as the staff are friendly and amazing to say the very least.

    I don't know who the house DJ was but he definitely was playing music right up my alley. It would've been my dream for people to start dancing, but it's all good.

    It's a bit sceney for my taste, but it really didn't bother me much. the bartenders knew their stuff, although their 1st cocktail was a little weak, when he saw i understood cocktails the next 2 were stronger. I also liked that even though the place was really hopping the bartender remembered what i was drinking when i came to order another. (he also understood how good a gin hendricks is, and not to overpower it with the mixer). It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied..try it ..you will love it!! Oh..how can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!!

    We ordered the Veal and Fish Tacos. They were delicious. Mm! We ended up asking for spoons to polish off whatever remained in the platter. (Faux pas? Who cares as long as it gets in my tummy.) The fries were crispy, but not overcooked, just the way that I like them.

    So take in this scene: You walk in to what seems like an overly crowded place, but soon fine an empty table. Time seems to stop and the only indicator of the night moving on is the moon and your brain cells slowly going to bed forever. The music is not to loud and the people around look good, the only thing left for you to do is to enjoy that drink you paid ridiculously low for and laugh at the joke your co-worker just told.

    The vibe of the place just never seems to die out and if you happen to spot some NYC socialite, sports player, or star, don't let it get to you… because for that moment, this night they are no long more important than then you. In fact go up to them and introduce yourself!

    All in all just a great place to meet new people, or just have drinks with people you already know. I've been to numerous bars in the city but i would say this place is just great. Very welcoming staff, very laid back ambiance. I’ve been here twice after my first visit with my Cali group . I would say its worth the every penny you spend!!

  8. publisher_sa

    Hey Davis; like your story about Point Break in NYC. Matter of fact I lived for a while in Manhattan in the eary 80s and was always awed by the nightlife's creativity. Now my question is, why did you put a comment on SearchAmelia about this New York bar? I certainly appreciate sharing the idea of bar creativity which is something we kind of miss here on Amelia Island. The Wheel 'o' Shots is definitely my favorite. Coincidentally a friend is right now flying in on Jetblue's direct flight to Jacksonville from the Big Apple. I will ask him if he went to Point Break and he will ask me if I mean the movie with Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey.
    Where is it located?

  9. Dogs

    Yes I think tourrism means increase the income for any country this is why I support it.

  10. Dogs

    Yes I think tourrism means increase the income for any country this is why I support it.

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