Maas Media - Travel & Political Musings


U.S. Travel Industry Roadmap for the next Decade

The U.S. travel association is predicting that travelers will have spent about $755.6 billion during 2010 in the U.S.  This is still $17 billion below the record that was spent during 2007.  The good news is that forecasters are calling for a steady increase in spending by travelers by both domestic and foreign travelers.  2011 is shaping up to be a banner year for the travel industry with forecasters predicting a record $794 billion in spending.  A steady climb into the $800 billion territory thereafter will follow according to the U.S. travel association.

In order for the travel industry to remain competitive with the rest of the world, especially attracting more foreign visitors, and to keep our domestic travelers happy at the same time, I feel that the following policies need to be adopted by the U.S. government:

1)      Improve U.S. infrastructure

2)      A freeze on tax increases impacting the travel industry

3)      Improvements on border entries for foreign visitors

If all three policies are given the attention it needs in the upcoming years the U.S. will be in a very good position to remain one of the top destinations for travelers worldwide.

Improve U.S. infrastructure

Both Popular Mechanics and the American Society of Civil Engineers have recently raised the alarm that the U.S. infrastructure is starting to crumble and is in dire need of an upgrade.  Airports, highways and rail especially are not given funds to grow with demand, which in turn will cause issues for travelers trying to enter the U.S. and cause issues for travelers trying to reach different destinations within the U.S.

A freeze on tax increases impacting the travel industry

It’s been a standard practice for local governments to fund special projects or fill budget deficits by raising taxes on hotel rooms or car rentals.  The thinking is that by doing so it won’t hurt the local tax payers, but only visiting people from out of town.  The reality is that it makes it that more expensive to come visit and will scare away visitors in the future.  Travelers do not like it when their standard room rate or standard rental rate receives a 30% to 50% hike due to local taxes.  This practice needs to stop.

Improvements on border entries for foreign visitors

State Department and Homeland Security need to ensure that foreign visitors are made to feel welcome when entering the U.S.  A better, more efficient and friendlier service needs to be implemented.  Taxing tourists for example for just entering the country isn’t the right solution.  Long lines and unfriendly custom agents can have a detrimental impact future visitor totals to the U.S.  We do need great security to protect us from unwanted visitors, but at the same time those visitors we do want we should treat them better.

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