Travel Association President Claims, ‘This Will Be the Year of Recovery’
WASHINGTON — “This will be the year of recovery,” according to U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow as he gave an update on the state of the American travel industry at the National Press Club Wednesday morning.
While the past two years have severely tested the U.S. travel industry, including $730 billion in cumulative losses and 1.2 million lost jobs, Dow remains confident that despite what he called a “temporary setback,” brighter days are ahead.
“We saw a surge in travel demand after vaccines,” Dow said, “and Americans are excited to travel in the next six months.
“I’ve seen this industry come together in the face of adversity and come together like never before. … I think, no, I know, there are a lot of good times ahead for the travel industry.”
The USTA’s key priorities in supporting the industry’s recovery are strengthening the travel workforce and restoring jobs, having seamless and secure travel, boosting sustainability, and focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“First, we need to get people back to work,” Dow said, calling for an examination of how the industry hires, recruits and retains talent to ensure a workforce that is representative of diverse populations.
He also called for business leaders to bring back business travel.
“We can’t build our economy on Zoom,” he quipped.
From advancing high-speed rail and nationwide airport improvements to encouraging city design that better welcomes travelers, as well as expanding the Trusted Traveler Program and reducing visa wait times, improving the travel experience is also top of mind as USTA plans for the travel industry to move forward.
In terms of sustainability, the USTA is actively advocating for expanding the nation’s electric vehicle infrastructure as well as sustainable aviation fuels.
The association is also pushing for emerging technologies like vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and hyperloops.
And this coordinated approach to travel and tourism will be done with assistance from a new ally at the Department of Transportation. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided for the creation of a chief travel and tourism officer within the agency to help coordinate policy across all modes of transportation and provide recommendations for investments geared toward reviving domestic and international travel.
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