A press conference conducted this week by the U.S. Travel Association offered industry perspective and recommendations across a set of issues critical to America’s travel economy, including U.S. visa processing and the domestic aviation system, as well as insights and projections for business and leisure travel. The event was led by the association’s President and CEO Geoff Freeman and incoming U.S. Travel National Chair and Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta.
This new Travel Outlook press conference will be held quarterly and will focus on topics of importance to the growth of travel.
“Travel is essential to the U.S. economy, and both the public and private sectors have roles in getting this industry to its full potential,” Freeman said in a press release. “But when we talk about the travel industry, we’re really talking about every industry, how travel’s growth and success is integral to practically everything from manufacturing to education and far beyond.”
Nassetta said the group sees a number of key opportunities ahead to drive future growth.
“Travel plays a critical role in America’s economic success, but it’s much more than that—our industry positively impacts people’s lives,” he said. “I look forward to working even more closely with U.S. Travel, along with our partners across government and industry, to increase travel to and within the United States.”
Key policy priorities discussed during the press conference that will enable stronger travel growth include:
International inbound travel
- Decrease unacceptable visitor visa wait times, which total more than 400 days worldwide in the United States’ top 10 visa-requiring markets
- Eliminate the vaccine requirement for international visitors
- Restore the Chinese inbound travel market and ensure processing operations run efficiently as demand increases
- Improve the air travel system and create a seamless and secure travel experience from end to end, beginning with opportunities this year as Congress works to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration
- Get the federal workforce back to the office and encourage the return of government business travel
- Leverage the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to enable better traveler mobility options within our nation’s travel infrastructure
U.S. Travel also spoke to findings of a new Ipsos Poll field survey, conducted between Jan. 13-22, that highlights pain points in the travel experience, which will help inform the association’s work to modernize the entire travel system. Of note:
- The air travel experience is sub-par for nearly half of Americans: Just one in 10 Americans who have flown by air (13 percent) rate their overall travel experience as excellent while nearly half (45 percent) rate it as average or below average. Crowds and congestion, flight delays or cancelations, airport security process and cumbersome travel logistics were the main contributors to a less-than-excellent travel experience
- Approximately half of Americans are comfortable sharing biometric data with the Transportation Security Administration—such as fingerprints and facial recognition—for a more seamless travel experience
“The latest data is a clear sign that significant upgrades are needed to kickstart a reimagined air travel experience that works for all Americans,” Freeman said.