Travel Bulletin

America rolls out the welcome mat


The US Travel Associatio­n last month hosted its annual IPW convention, with about 6,000 delegates including suppliers from across all 50 states showcasing their wares to buyers from around the world. Taking place in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles, the event coincided with the highly anticipate­d opening of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge precinct at the nearby Disneyland California – but that was just one of the many highlights of the event as America’s tourism industry pulled out all stops to demonstrat­e that its doors are wide open to visitors from overseas.

The impressive line-up of product was complement­ed by a truly incredible array of celebrity support, with delegates treated to performanc­es from The Beach Boys, Snoop Dogg, Jason Derulo and an array of Broadway stars flown in just for the event. Packed appointmen­t schedules were complement­ed by non-stop evening networking events, as attendees flitted from party to party with each destinatio­n trying to outdo its rivals.

US Travel Associatio­n CEO Roger Dow repeatedly highlighte­d the importance of travel and tourism to the US economy, also mentioning its potential for easing global tensions. While inbound to the travel to the USA has continued to grow over the past few years, he noted that the increase had been at a slower rate than the global average, meaning America’s share of internatio­nal long-haul travel had dropped from 13.7% on 2015 to 11.7% last year.

“That small percentage represents a huge number of visitors and impacts tens of thousands of jobs,” he noted, highlighti­ng the ongoing efforts the US Travel Associatio­n and Brand USA were making to lobby for the sector in Washington. A key focus is having Brand USA re-authorised for a further five year period once its current mandate expires in September 2020, so that it can continue its mission of promoting America to the world

The news wasn’t all bad, with Dow highlighti­ng the possible expansion of the Visa Waiver Program which facilitate­s arrivals from a number of “trusted” countries including Australia. Potential new participan­ts include Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in Europe, as well as Israel alongside several South American countries including Brazil, Costa Rica and Argentina.

The issue of delays at some US airports and border points was a hot topic during IPW - but that may be about to change, at least for some Australian travellers. Officials told travelbull­etin that a trial would commence later this year allowing Australian citizens to participat­e in the Global Entry trusted traveller program, which pre-vets visitors to enable them to pass through express lanes when arriving in the US and also use the

TSA Pre-check accelerate­d screening process on domestic flights. Targeting frequent travellers, membership of the Global Entry scheme costs US$100

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