This week will be a busy one for IITA and the travel industry as we flood the nation’s capital for Destination Capitol Hill, the legislative fly-in event led by the US Travel Association. Our Secretary Gerrit De Vos, of Bonotel, Executive Director Lisa Simon and I will participate on behalf of IITA to carry important messages to our Congressional representatives, like:
- Travel is America’s largest export industry, generating more than $246 billion in travel exports in 2015 and accounting for 11 percent of all US exports of goods and services.
- The critical importance of infrastructure funding for the National Parks.
- Preserving the Visa Waiver Program and emphasizing how it strengthens U.S. security – high security needs and increasing inbound visitation are not at odds.
- The inbound travel industry depends on timely data and market intelligence provided by the National Travel and Tourism Office and the marketing efforts of Brand USA.
In addition to Congressional meetings, we’ll meet with representatives of the National Parks Service and National Travel and Tourism Office. Gerrit and I will attend our first US Travel Association Board meeting where we’ll further represent the interests of IITA inbound operators and the inbound industry. Finally, I will attend the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board meeting where we’ll have the first opportunity to share the industry’s needs with new Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.
On another note, we’re working with Brand USA as they focus on product development, since IITA members provide the product for international visitors. They’re putting itineraries together that will help international visitors have rich experiences while in the U.S. We will have more information to share in the coming months, so stay tuned.
Finally, we are fine-tuning this year’s Committee structure and will begin appointing Committee members shortly – please let us know if you’re interested in serving. Now is the time to engage at a deeper level with IITA as we unite the industry to address the many challenges we face.
I’ll be sure to give you an update on this week’s DC meetings in the next newsletter. As always, it’s my pleasure to carry your voice through our advocacy efforts.
-Gary Schluter, Chairman
Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours