Soft Recovery for Travel Predicted by 2010

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addresses a delegation of 5,000 at International Pow Wow

By: By Monica Poling

Gary Locke, Roger Dow at International Pow Wow // (c) 2009

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
with U.S. Travel Association
President and CEO Roger Dow at International Pow Wow in Miami.

In news that can hardly be deemed surprising, the U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that international travel to the U.S. declined by 10 percent in the first quarter of 2009, with a predicted total decline of 8 percent by year’s end.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, however, says there may be some glimmer of sunlight ahead.

While addressing a delegation of 5,000 travel industry members at International Pow Wow 2009, Locke said, “We see a soft recovery by the end of 2010, as we forecast a 3 percent growth in international travel for that year. Following 2010, we estimate 5 percent annual increases through 2013 to take us to a record 64 million international travelers experiencing America.”

As long-haul travel continues to elude pre- 9/11 numbers, despite an estimated 48 million new long-haul travelers around the world, the forecast by Secretary Locke comes as welcome news.

"Secretary Locke understands that travel is the economic stimulus America needs," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,500 per person, per trip, creating jobs and economic opportunity in communities across America. Secretary Locke further demonstrated today that the Obama Administration shares our commitment to increasing travel to and within the United States."

The forecast was also welcome news to the nearly 5,000 delegates attending this year’s International Pow Wow 2009 in Miami.

International Pow Wow // (c) 2009 Greater Miami CVB

 Bruce Bommarito, Executive Vice President/COO of U.S. Travel and International Pow Wow General Manager with William Talbert, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz at the Press Brunch Sunday May 16. (c) 2009 Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

International Pow Wow, sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, is the premiere U.S. travel show and emphasizes inbound, international travel. Travel buyers and media convene from around the world to meet with domestic travel sellers, seeking the newest and brightest travel products.

In total, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations were represented at Pow Wow, with another 1,200 international and domestic buyers in attendance. Buyers came from 70 countries around the world, and more than 72,000 business appointments were scheduled.

The show is expected to generate more than $3.5 billion in future international travel, with approximately $400 million of that benefit host city, Miami and the surrounding area. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) anticipates that Pow Wow generated more than 19,000 room nights and an $8.5 million economic impact.Greater Miami and the Beaches area invested heavily in tourism infrastructure improvements in advance of Pow Wow, and delegates were welcomed to a significantly enhanced Miami. Significant new projects in Miami include the new 1.7-million-square-foot South Terminal at Miami International Airport and two new cruise ports at the Port of Miami.

The GMCVB organized a star-studded event for its international delegates, including a private party on South Beach and gala closing event at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Many area hotels, attractions and restaurants joined the party, creating local tours to display Miami at its finest.

After the final parties closed, however, the real challenge continues: finding a way to get international travel sellers to convince their customers that the United States is a good buy.

Texas Tuesday at International Pow Wow // (c) 2009

The Grammy Award-winning band
Asleep at the Wheel performed at Tuesday's luncheon, sponsored by Texas Tourism.

Travel and tourism is responsible for more than one fourth of all service exports for the United States. In 2008, the travel industry welcomed 58 million international travelers (including Canada and Mexico), generating more than $140 billion in receipts and nearly 1 million jobs.

If a 3 percent increase in 2010 came to pass, it would equate to 1.5 million more visitors to the U.S., 30,000 new jobs and more than $3 billion in receipts.

For information on next year's International Pow Wow, which is scheduled for May 15-19 in Orlando, Fla., visit