Philippine Daily Inquirer

How the US plans to lure tourists from China, India, other emerging markets


journalist­s from the world over trooped to this resort city to take part in whatwas considered the largest annual gathering of travel and travel-related industries in the US.

The city of Orlando, better known to Filipinos as the home of Disneyworl­d, SeaWorld and Universal Resort, last hosted the four-day event in 2006. San Francisco is gearing up as it hosts the event next year.

While global travel contracted by 4.3 percent in 2009, it was more pronounced in the US, which saw arrivals down by 5.3 percent compared to 2008. The situation began to im- prove by the fourth quarter as the number of inbound travelers increased by 2.4 percent.

“We saw a 15-percent increase in the number of internatio­nal visitors for the first two months of 2010,” said Francisco Sanchez, undersecre­tary of the US Department of Commerce. “Internatio­nal arrivals are projected to increase by six percent this year and five percent every year until 2013.”

Travel promotions

Despite such dampeners as the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which cost the US around $813 million in lost revenue, and the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Dow and Stephen Joyce, national chair of USTA, remained optimistic as they cited the associatio­n’s accomplish­ments, including the signing into law of the US Travel Promotion Act (TPA) earlier this year by US President Barack Obama, during a joint media conference.

TPA is designed to stimulate public and private partnershi­ps that would promote travel to the US throughout the world.

“It’s the first ever communicat­ions and promotions program in the US for travel promotion,” said Dow. “It basically creates a corporatio­n for travel promotions, which, although it still reports to the Department of Commerce, is a separate entity in itself.”

Apart from informing visitors of various legal ways to enter the US, TPA also seeks to end existing confusion generated by constantly changing developmen­ts in US leisure and business travel. But most importantl­y, it provides the travel industry vast opportunit­ies to promote the US and its attraction­s the world over.

“A research firm called Oxford Economics estimates that the TPA’s passage will bring an additional 1.6 million visitors to the US,” said Dow. “These people are projected to spend $4 billion and create 40,000 new jobs on its first year.”

Although travel and tourism are directly responsibl­e for generating eightmilli­on jobs and $1.3 trillion in economic output annually, the US government did not spend big to promote tourism before the TPA was passed. Instead, it relied mostly on private sector initiative­s from the likes of USTA and the different convention and visitor associatio­ns all over the US.

Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan remain America’s top four markets for inbound travelers. But the industry (this piece of informatio­n should interest major players in the Philippine­s) can only ignore emerging markets like China, India and Brazil at its own peril.

Huge numbers

The Chinese, more than any other people in the world today, are traveling abroad in huge numbers. According to an article in the May 24 issue ofNewsweek, “54million Chinese are expected to go abroad this year, up from 47.6

 ??  ?? DISNEY group has a built-in following among tour operators specializi­ng in family packages, especially for first-time travelers to the US.
DISNEY group has a built-in following among tour operators specializi­ng in family packages, especially for first-time travelers to the US.

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