Tourism industry leaders, including Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, and 13 member CEOs, met Sept. 4 with President Donald Trump to discuss pressing travel issues, including inbound international visitor arrivals.

"Our discussion with the president was simple: a strong flow of international business and leisure travelers into the U.S. reduces the trade deficit and creates an outsize number of American jobs," Dow said in a statement. "There is a global international travel boom, and there is a huge opportunity to greatly expand upon the already strong economy.”

There has been concern, particularly this year, that Trump’s travel ban is one of the factors that is impacting the country's international travel market share. The third version of the president’s travel ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Two months earlier, Dow was interviewed on Bloomberg TV, voicing his concern about losing some of the country’s share of inbound international visitors as other countries capitalized on the growing travel boom.

“The rest of the world is up about 4 percent in long-haul travel, and we’re like flat,” Dow said during the Bloomberg TV interview in April. “There are several factors. It started in 2015, with a strong dollar, some weaker economies around the world and then the Trump administration with the travel ban and such a push on security.

“All of our research says you can have great security and have a welcoming message. And we’re kind of missing the welcoming part,” Dow added.

In June, travel to and within the U.S. grew four percent year-over-year, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI)—marking the industry’s 102nd straight month of overall expansion. Despite this positive trend, the association said travel economists remain wary that growth of international inbound travel to the U.S. is not keeping pace with long-haul travel worldwide, projected to increase six percent in 2018.

Meanwhile, trade tensions and rising oil prices are other significant factors, according to the U.S. Travel Association, which in a statement stressed the importance of policies and messaging that make it clear the U.S. is open and eager for business. 

The White House conversation with Trump Sept. 4 highlighted ways the administration and the travel industry can work together to achieve travel-related growth. Policies discussed to help improve inbound travel included expanding and enhancing secure visa policies and supporting the Brand USA destination marketing agency. Transportation infrastructure, which the U.S. Travel Association said is critical to the growth of both international and domestic travel, was also discussed.

"The president is a keen listener whenever you're talking about growing the economy, and he was receptive to the idea that travel growth can be achieved without compromising security,” Dow said. "We're grateful to the president and his senior aides for their time and attention."

According the the U.S. Travel Association, in 2017 the U.S. travel industry accounted for $1,036 billion in traveler spending, generated a total of $2.4 trillion in economic output and supported a total of 15.6 million American jobs. International travel spending in 2017 directly supported about 1.2 million U.S. jobs and $33.7 billion in wages.

Visit Brand USA's website for information on current travel restrictions

The following people were in attendance at the Sept. 4 White House meeting:

  • Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association;
  • Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts;
  • Phil Brown of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (attending in his role as chair of U.S. Travel's Gateway Airports Council);
  • Kevin Frid of AccorHotels;
  • Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels Corporation;
  • Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels Group;
  • George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands Corporation;
  • Chris Nassetta of Hilton;
  • Patrick Pacious of Choice Hotels International;
  • Joe Popolo of Freeman;
  • James Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc.;
  • Arne Sorenson of Marriott International;
  • John Sprouls of Universal Parks & Resorts; and
  • Greg Stubblefield of Enterprise Holdings, Inc.

Also joining Dow and member executives at the meeting were Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella and Senior Vice President for Government Relations Tori Barnes.

What would you ask Trump? Include your biggest questions and concerns in the comments section below.