“There is a reason there are so many senior officials from the Obama administration joining you here in Las Vegas,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, speaking at the 11th Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Las Vegas, May 17–19. “When your industry succeeds, America succeeds. And so do countries all around the world.”
Jarrett was one of three keynote speakers from the Obama administration to address the approximately 1,000 industry leaders at the Word Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Travel and Tourism Summit. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were also on the program.
Jarrett spoke about the importance of travel and tourism to the economy and reiterated the president’s commitment to the industry. “The president is absolutely supportive of business travel,” said Jarrett, in response to a question from the audience. She referred to the flap over President Obama’s comments in 2009, when he said bailout companies wouldn’t be able to take trips to Las Vegas, the Super Bowl, or spend money frivolously on the taxpayer’s dime. Jarrett said the comment was taken out of context and added that the president’s commitment to the industry shows in his actions. The administration has passed the Travel Promotion Act, created the Corporation for Travel Promotion Board, and introduced the National Export Initiative. Regarding international travel to the U.S., Jarrett said, “if it’s easier to travel through the U.S., more people will choose to do so.” That will create jobs and boost exports, she added.
In related news, the Corporation for Travel Promotion has named Jim Evans as its new chief executive officer. Evans has a long history in the hospitality industry, including a stint as president and chief executive officer at Best Western International hotel company.
“After considering dozens of candidates, Jim stood out to us as one of the most accomplished executives in the industry today, and he is the board’s unanimous choice to build America’s first national program to attract international travel,” said Stephen Cloobeck, chairman of the board of directors for the Corporation for Travel Promotion. Evans is the CTB’s first CEO. The CTB was created in 2010 as part of the Travel Promotion Act. It is the first-ever nationally coordinated program aimed at marketing the United States abroad.