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VISIT FLORIDA Participates in White House Briefing on International Trade

By on May 5th, 2015 — 2:54pm

Travel leaders from across the country visited the White House last week to brief key Obama Administration officials on the value of international trade to local and regional economies.  Along with Phil Brown from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, I was proud to represent the Florida tourism industry at this important trade event organized by the U.S. Travel Association.

Fellow tourism industry leaders in attendance included Julie Chase, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau; Richard Constable, Wyndham Worldwide; Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon; Jack Ferguson, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; Kevin Langston, Georgia Department of Economic Development; and Ernest Wooden Jr., Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.  Patricia Rojas-Ungár, U.S. Travel Association Vice President for Government Affairs, also attended.

The travel delegation had the opportunity to speak with Ambassador Robert Holleyman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative; Greg Nelson, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President; Jeffrey Zients, Director and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy; Kelly Craighead, Executive Director, National Trade and Tourism Office, Department of Commerce and other senior executive branch personnel.

Several pivotal trade measures are currently under consideration in both chambers of Congress.  Foremost among them the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would expedite the president’s negotiation of key agreements with international trading partners. U.S. Travel and its members earlier in this legislative session came out in strong support of the measure.

“We are grateful travel leaders from across the country have a seat at the table in discussing the unquestionable value expanded trade brings to the U.S. economy and to their local communities and businesses,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.  “We support the administration’s efforts to move the TPA forward, and encourage both chambers of Congress to pass the measure without delay.  Sound trade agreements have profoundly benefited the national economy, helping generate $222 billion in travel exports in 2014 alone.  Supporting and expanding such agreements with such evident economic benefits seems a no-brainer.”

Nationally, travel now accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. exports, and in 2014 accounted for one out of every nine new U.S. export dollars.  On its own, travel generated a trade surplus of $75.7 billion dollars last year, versus an overall U.S. trade deficit of $515 billion.  Without travel, the overall U.S. trade deficit would have been 15 percent larger.

Coming out of the briefing, it seems clear that government officials understand how important our industry is to the economy and now to trade, which we were told is the President’s top legislative priority.  We will continue to follow this issue as Congress makes its decision later this month. 

Alfredo Gonzalez
Vice President, International Sales & Market Development
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