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Principles To Guide The Next Decade for Travel in America

The approaching tenth anniversary of 9/11 provides an opportunity to position our industry and help frame the coming retrospectives and look-ahead coverage in a way that is beneficial to travel.  I took the opportunity today to discuss with the media the impact that fateful day has had on our industry and to outline a series of forward-thinking principles developed by the U.S. Travel Association that will strengthen security and help eliminate barriers that are discouraging travel to and within the United States. With a focus on reducing traveler wait times, improving customer service, and replacing a one-size-fits-all approach with a risk-based approach, the principles strike a balance between security and travel facilitation.  We must continue keeping travelers safe with the highest level of security, but we must incorporate principles that improve facilitation and encourage travel while minimizing the burden on travelers. The Sobering Impact of 9/11 International travel has represented a lost opportunity for the U.S. economy and American jobs since 9/11. While global long-haul travel grew 40 percent from 2000 to 2010, overseas travel to the United States during this same timeframe rose just two percent. Despite more travelers worldwide, our slice of the pie shrunk, with U.S. market share of the global travel market dropping from 17 percent in 2000 to 12.4 percent in 2010. If America had simply kept pace with the growth in global long-haul international travel in the decade after 9/11, 78 million more travelers would have visited the United States, adding a total of $606 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 467,000 additional U.S. jobs annually. The past decade has been difficult as well for business travel, with total volume declining 21 percent between 2000 and 2010. This was due to the immediate impact of 9/11 and by the meetings crisis in the late 2000s. Business travel returned to growth mode in 2010, increasing nearly 4 percent, and growth is expected through 2014, although at a much slower rate ranging from 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent annually. Leisure travel has been quite resilient in the decade since 9/11, with leisure travel volume increasing 17 percent since 2000, despite a few years of negative growth. This growth underscores the importance of travel to Americans. Slow but steady growth of about 2 percent annually is expected through 2014. The Way Forward With the domestic economy again appearing to decelerate, attracting more international visitors to the United States and improving the TSA security experience will play an important role in creating job opportunities for Americans. Implementing the principles set forth today by the U.S. Travel Association to reduce wait times, improve customer service and replace a one-size-fits-all approach will help make America more secure and competitive in the global marketplace. Thank you for your contributions during the past decade in helping our industry thrive during challenging times, and your commitment to helping it thrive in the decade ahead. Sincerely, Roger Dow President and CEO