Roundtable Weekly
Trump 2016 Campaign Advisor: Boost Foreign Tourism to Lower the Trade Deficit
August 17, 2018

Club for Growth founder and economic advisor to the Trump 2016 campaign, Stephen Moore, writes in an August 15 op-ed that boosting foreign tourism to the United States will increase economic growth and lower the trade deficit — a view shared by the VisitU.S. Coalition.  (Boston Herald, Aug. 15)

The economic importance of foreign travel and tourism to the United States' economy and commercial real estate industry was the focus of a panel discussion during The Roundtable's 2018 Annual Meeting in June. 
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  • Moore notes in his commentary, "Washington is ignoring one easy way to trim the trade deficit without new tariff threats or complicated trade deals that could take years to consummate.  Get more foreigners to travel to the United States and buy things here. Recently, I met with officials from the Visit U.S. Coalition - which is made up of owners of businesses such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, amusement parks and shopping centers – and they alerted me to this lost opportunity."
  • Led by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), the VisitU.S. Coalition includes The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Resort Development Association.  The multi-industry coalition aims to safely and securely welcome more overseas visitors, who stay an average of 18 nights and spend an estimated $4,360 at U.S. hotels, stores, restaurants and attraction properties.
  • Moore also comments in his op-ed: "Prior to 9/11, the U.S. was the destination for about 1 in 6 international trips, but now we are the destination for about 1 in 8.  The travel industry economists calculate that this decline has reduced foreign purchases of American goods and services by some $32 billion. They estimate about 100,000 fewer jobs have been created as a result of fewer tourists arriving from abroad."  
  • To address the drop of 7.4 million international visitors to America from 2015-2017, the VisitU.S. coalition encourages policies to help the nation regain its lost share of the global travel market by 2020 and help achieve the Administration's economic goals. (Roundtable WeeklyJan. 19 and  Feb. 9)  

    VisitU.S. Coalition video on the State of International Travel

  • Specifically, the coalition is urging Congress to reauthorize the Brand USA program — the nation's first public-private partnership that markets the U.S. as a premier travel destination and communicates U.S. visa and entry policies.  "The travel industry itself needs to do a better and more comprehensive job marketing America and our natural and man-made wonders," Moore noted in his editorial.   
  • Entry fees on foreign visitors – not federal taxpayer dollars – support Brand USA.  An FY2017 return on investment analysis showed each dollar of Brand USA marketing generated almost 28 dollars in visitor spending.  Brand USA is also estimated to have produced 486 million dollars in federal tax revenue, and another $526 million  in state and local tax revenue.  

Travel and tourism policies to boost economic growth were addressed in a panel discussion during The Real Estate Roundtable's June 14 Annual Meeting.  Participants included USTA's Roger Dow, AH&LA's Katherine Lugar, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Anthony E. Malkin (Chairman and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust).  (Roundtable Weekly, June 15, 2018.)