LEXINGTON, Kentucky – In light of leadership changes in five U.S. Cabinet departments—all of them vital to the travel and tourism industry—NTA is intent on building positive, productive relationships within those agencies.
“The decisions reached within these five departments are crucial to the continued growth of U.S. tourism, and we want to work with them every step of the way,” said NTA President Lisa Simon, following a series of Washington, D.C., meetings. “Tourism makes an enormous contribution to our economy, but without support from the federal government, those tourism dollars could dissipate.”
New secretaries have recently been confirmed for four of the five departments:
• In the Commerce Department, which works to increase tourism’s contribution to the U.S. economy, Secretary Penny Pritzker replaced Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank.
• In the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service, a leading tourism attraction, Secretary Sally Jewell replaced Secretary Ken Salazar.
• In the State Department, which authorizes U.S. entry and exit, Secretary John Kerry replaced Secretary Hillary Clinton.
• In the Transportation Department, which oversees travel infrastructure, Secretary Anthony Foxx replaced Secretary Ray LaHood.
And in the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for entry and exit operations, a nominee to replace retiring Secretary Janet Napolitano has yet to be announced.
Teaming with other tourism leaders, Simon recently met with officials from the Interior Department to discuss marketing U.S. national parks abroad, working with advisory boards focused on tourism, and measuring public lands’ impact on domestic tourism.
Simon and other leaders also met with Isabel Hill, director of the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, which is housed within the Commerce Department. The session included, among other topics, ways to better assess the impact of outbound travel and adding it to the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, launched last year to promote travel throughout the United States.
“Our industry continues to generate jobs for Americans—and travel is the country’s leading export—but there’s still room for growth, and that’s our goal,” said Simon. “We’re committed and eager to meet with representatives of the other departments and find ways to grow the impact of U.S. travel and tourism.”
Simon added that while much can be accomplished working with federal agencies, industry leaders are also focused on passage of the immigration bill currently before Congress. The bill contains measures that will encourage travel to the United States while increasing security at airports and borders.