Travel jobs are adding to the economy faster than any other sector, and pro-travel policies should be put into place because of the economic engine the U.S. travel industry is to the nation, stressed Geoff Freeman, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, in testimony today before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Like other sectors of the economy, the travel industry was hit hard during the recession. Travel industry employment fell by nearly half a million from February 2008 to December 2009. Yet, the industry has helped lead the nation's economic recovery by adding 277,000 jobs since 2009.
"To date, the travel industry has regained more than half (56%) of the jobs lost during the downturn," said Freeman. "In fact, the pace of job growth in the travel industry has exceeded the rest of the economy by 33 percent. A study released last year by the McKinsey Global Institute projects the leisure and hospitality sector could add between 2.1 million and 3.3 million new jobs in this decade because the industry is labor intensive, driven by consumer spending, and safe from risks of outsourcing overseas."
Freeman appeared on a panel titled, "Where the Jobs Are: Promoting Tourism to America." His testimony covered a number of topics including travel promotion, visa issuance and recommendations for visa system reforms, expansion of the visa waiver program, making the entry experience into the U.S. efficient and welcoming, and facilitating and growing domestic travel through aviation security reforms, infrastructure improvements and government meetings and conferences.