The US Commerce Department on Monday will unveil a new strategy aimed at boosting international tourism from COVID-19 and government travel restrictions by streamlining the admissions process and promoting more diverse destinations.
The department told Reuters that the “National Travel and Tourism Strategy” sets a target of 90 million international visitors by 2027, which will cost an estimated $279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels.
“There are a lot of industries that have outgrown COVID – travel and tourism haven’t,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview.
The federal government should do more to support the revival of travel and tourism to make the industry “more resilient, sustainable and equitable”, according to the draft strategy document seen by Reuters.
In 2019, there were 79.4 million international visitors to the United States, a figure that fell to 19.2 million in 2020 and increased to 22.1 million in 2021.
The Commerce Department said that international visitors spent $239.4 billion in 2019, but just $81 billion in 2019.
Before COVID, tourism supported 9.5 million American jobs and generated $1.9 trillion in economic output.
One of the goals of the strategy is to modernize admission procedures for visitors to enter and travel to the United States.
“We need to streamline the admissions process,” Raimondo said. “It’s cumbersome and very paper-based and we want to move to a more digital process.”
Other goals include promoting a more diverse US tourism experience beyond coastal states, reducing tourism’s contribution to climate change, and creating a region that is resilient to natural disasters, public health hazards, and the effects of climate change. .
One reason tourism had fallen so sharply is that the United States was lagging behind in lifting COVID border restrictions in many other countries, which barred entry to much of the world. US regulations were not relaxed until November 2021.
The United States still requires foreign nationals to be vaccinated against COVID and nearly all international air travelers to test negative before travel. American airlines say almost all the other countries they serve do not require testing.
Raimondo acknowledged that the testing is a “barrier” to tourism and the United States is an “outsider”, but did not anticipate when those rules might be relaxed.
“I hear a lot about it from the industry and I’ve been expressing that to the administration,” Raimondo said.