AH&LA, U.S. Chamber, hotel companies form travel trade lobbying group

WASHINGTON, D.C. American Hotel & Lodging Association is teaming with U.S. Travel Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation and several major hotel companies to launch Discover America Partnership, a lobbying campaign to advance visa and entry reforms to recover international tourism to the United States that has declined since 9/11.

Globally, international travel is up, but the United States is not reaping the full benefits. U.S. visa policies have deterred foreign visitors; while the number of global long-haul travelers increased by 61 million travelers from 2000 to 2010, the number of visitors to the United States has stayed flat.

The coalition aims to correct this trend by educating policymakers and opinion leaders on the economic significance of tourism and business travel to the United States, as well as highlighting barriers that prevent the United States from maximizing its potential in the global travel market and offering affordable solutions that will enable the United States to create hundreds of thousands of sustainable American jobs.

Carlson Hotels, Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, IHG, Loews Hotels, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are members of the campaign’s steering committee.

“President Obama established a goal of doubling exports by 2015, and encouraging international travel to the U.S. remains one of the best ways to achieve this target,” says AH&LA President and CEO Joe McInerney. “Bringing international travelers will create jobs, generate revenue and showcase the United States to visitors. This is a bipartisan, low-cost issue that will benefit every community across America.”

The coalition will leverage existing assets of each partner to maximize resources. Discover America Partnership will mount an aggressive advocacy campaign with Congress and the Obama Administration that will include meetings, briefings and hearings.