The US Travel Association’s “Travel Works for America” roadshow visited Savannah today, where 20 national and local travel and business leaders joined U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) to discuss contributions travel essentials to the economy. The Travel Works tour highlights how travel powers nearly every industry and community across the United States.
Monday’s Travel Works roundtable, held at the Westin Savannah Harbor hotel, was also attended by the president and CEO of the US Travel Development Association, among more than a dozen other business leaders and officials.
“The travel industry drives the US economy, and its growth depends on an effective partnership between policymakers and industry leaders,” said US Travel Association President and CEO. USA, Geoff Freeman. “US Travel thanks Congressman Carter for joining today’s discussion and advancing priorities in Congress that will enhance the travel experience.”
In 2022, travel spending generated $2.6 trillion in economic output and supported jobs for nearly 15 million American workers, including more than 27,000 leisure and hospitality workers in Savannah. In the state of Georgia, domestic and international travelers directly spent $34 billion in 2021, creating 422,600 jobs.
Barriers to travel, economic growth
While domestic leisure travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels and business travel is increasing, challenges for international inbound travel, a lucrative economic segment, threaten a full and speedy recovery. In our top 10 visa-required markets, travelers experience year-long waits (400+ days) to obtain a US visitor visa, a significant barrier to welcoming millions of new visitors.
In addition, visitors arriving at major US airports may experience average wait times of over an hour at Customs checkpoints, as a result of a shortage of US Customs and Border Protection officers. The federal government must prioritize visa processing and ensure that airports and ports of entry are adequately staffed to effectively compete for travelers and reap the associated economic benefits.
“Congress needs to focus on policies that address the problems that have resulted from a lack of federal progress on essential travel services,” Freeman said. “Waiting 400 days for a visa to visit the US or 13 weeks for a US passport deters travelers, with local economies and small businesses paying the price.”
The 2023 Travel Works for America roadshow expelled in the Washington, DC region, in May, amplifying the industry’s impact on the economy at stops on Capitol Hill, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Old Town in Alexandria, VA.
Travel Works for America’s next stop is scheduled for Detroit, Michigan in September.