Isabel Hill, director of the National Travel and Tourism Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce, today detailed how her office is seeking to make travel to the United States easier through a range of programs, from helping people get visas faster to improving the customer experience in airports. In an age where everything is online, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face communication, Hill told attendees at GBTA Legislative Symposium 2015.
Travel and tourism is a vital part of the U.S. economy, accounting for 2.6 percent of the GDP. Hill noted that while this number might not sound large, it is a huge segment of the economy, which also accounts for eight million U.S. jobs.
In addition to making it easier for travelers to get visas, the National Travel and Tourism Office, has worked to increase the longevity of visas for Chinese travelers to the United States from five years to 10 years. After the change was made, requests for visas rose by 60 percent.
Together with Brand USA, the Office is also seeking to increase international travel to the United States. One priority: improving the U.S. arrivals experience. Hill explained that her office is working with Homeland Security and developed airport action plans for the nation’s largest airports. “We are already seeing results,” Hill told the group. She also called on members to get involved in their communities. According to Hill, we have seen unparalleled work and cooperation between public and private sectors.