Cities know that tourism is down, but now they have the research that quantifies just how down it's been. According to new data released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Travel Business Roundtable, and the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus at a summit in Atlanta last week, international travel to the U.S. is significantly down because of the weak economy and the after-effects of 9/11, and the data predicts it will remain threatened without a concerted effort by the public and private sectors. The economies of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas were researched by DRI-WEFA, an economic research firm. The group in Atlanta endorsed a 10-point plan, which includes establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Travel and Tourism, to stimulate travel and thereby boost metro economies.
Among the key research findings:
- In 2000, travel and tourism was a $263.4 billion industry in the nation’s top 100 metro areas, including $17.6 billion in New York, $14 billion in Chicago, $13.6 billion in Los Angeles-Long Beach, $11.2 billion in Atlanta, $3.5 billion in Pittsburgh, and more than $1 billion in Colorado Springs. Travel and tourism is the largest share of the gross metropolitan economy in Las Vegas (14.4%), Honolulu (13.9%), and Orlando (12.3%).
- A significant travel slowdown has hit metro economies disproportionately hard, cutting more than 536,000 tourism-related jobs in the top 100 metro areas through 2002. Tourism job losses have been particularly severe in Phoenix (-27.2%), Orlando (-24.5%), San Diego (-23.8%), and Houston (-22.7%).
- A reduction in international visitors will cost metro areas more than $22.6 billion in lost economic activity in 2001 and 2002, of which more than $12.5 billion is attributed to 9/11. Losses were greatest in New York ($5.9 billion, of which $3.3 billion is attributed to 9/11), San Francisco ($2.1 billion, of which $1.2 billion is attributed to 9/11), Los Angeles ($1.75 billion, of which $970 million is attributed to 9/11), and Miami ($1.6 billion, of which $861 million is attributed to 9/11).
- International visits to the United States are not expected to recover soon without aggressive efforts by the public and private sectors. The report projects that the nation could achieve an additional $100 billion in international tourism spending from 2003 to 2007 if key strategic and policy decisions are made to foster the recovery and growth of key tourism export markets.
Jonathan Tisch, chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable, and chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, said, "We are the only developed nation in the world that does not make a strategic federal investment to promote our country as an international destination. In fact, the U.S. is now the third-most-visited country, behind France and Spain. The public and private sectors must work together to reverse this trend."
Summit participants endorsed a 10-point action plan, which includes:
- Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Travel and Tourism;
- Creating a destination pilot program, which would provide funding to specific cities and states to undertake individual destination marketing initiatives;
- Increasing funding for the Market Development Cooperator Program, a $2 million Commerce Department matching grants program that would help cities and convention and visitors bureaus promote their destinations overseas;
- Enacting the American Travel Promotion Act, pending legislation to provide $100 million in matching grants to stimulate the tourism industry; and
- Seeking restoration of tax incentives to spur business travel and urge Congress to make permanent the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit, powerful tools to help unskilled and disadvantaged workers receive job training for employment in the travel and tourism industries.
The report, developed by DRI-WEFA, an economic research firm, is accessible at www.usmayors.org.