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  • Listen here to audio from the press conference at IPW 2016 in New Orleans

Roger Dow

Roger Dow CEO of the US Travel Association speaking at IPW 2016 in New Orleans, June 21 2016

Roger Dow CEO of the US Travel Association speaking at IPW 2016 in New Orleans, June 21 2016

Welcome to the 48th annual IPW. It is great to return to New Orleans. Our fourth time hosting IPW in Crescent City. Listen here to audio from the press conference at IPW 2016 in New Orleans.

Last meeting here was in 2002, 14 years ago. So much has happened since. It’s a perfect time to showcase a revitalized New Orleans ahead of city’s tricentennial in 2018.

We’re celebrating another auspicious anniversary this year, the centennial of the US National Park Service.

Data and IPW delegates tell me that, year after year, US national parks are a favorite destination for international travelers.

IPW premier partner Brand USA is supporting the Park Service centennial with a phenomenal new IMAX documentary film, “National Parks Adventure” –set to show in 44 locations around the world.

Proud to say that Brand USA is providing dynamic support for IPW, and renewed their partnership with us through 2020. We look forward to growing each IPW with Brand USA into ever more successful events.

IPW was a tremendous success:

  • 1,300 travel buyers from over 70 countries;
  • Over 500 domestic and international media;
  • Over 6,000 total delegates will conduct 100,000 business appointments.

Additionally, New Orleans will reap the benefits of hosting IPW for years to come. Business conducted in these halls will generate:

  • More than $4.7 billion in future travel to the US;
  • $1.7 billion in direct economic impact for New Orleans;
  • One million additional visitors to the New Orleans area over next three years.

These numbers, and many others, illustrate how travel—particularly inbound international travel—is serious business for the US.

  • 75 million international visitors to US;
  • Spent $133 billion last year;
  • Supporting more than one million jobs.

Now unfortunately, there are scary things going on in the world that sometimes make us think twice about going about our daily lives, including travel. So if you take one thing away from my remarks today, it’s that this country needs to stay open and stay connected.

There’s been no shortage of horrifying news lately, most recently with the attacks in Orlando.

Our industry, this country and the entire world have been tested by similar scary stories. Terror attacks in San Bernardino, Brussels, Paris, Jakarta, Beirut and Istanbul. The spread of the Zika virus.

The world is ever more connected and complex, but it’s impossible to insulate ourselves from risk. We must not retreat out of fear, but instead stay open, and stay connected.

America is not a fortress and it should not be. It would be dangerous and costly to try to cut ourselves off from the world.

The US Travel Association’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. As such, we believe that our responses to threats in today’s world should be informed by intelligence, innovation and continuing to engage our friends and allies.

We stand our best chance to achieve security and prosperity when travelers, and indeed all of us, choose freedom over fear.

US Travel continually works towards policies to keep America a welcoming destination for international visitors, thereby ensuring that we stay open, and stay connected.

Our industry has weathered many storms, and has grown into an even stronger and more productive partner to our country’s leaders.

We’ve been doing this for 75 years, in fact. This fall, we will recognize the 75th anniversary of what is today the US Travel Association. We’re very fortunate to have as our national chair Todd Davidson of Travel Oregon, someone who works very ably with our partners in government and continues to help us forge new relationships.

I’d like to invite Todd to the stage to highlight some of the more interesting milestones on the long and successful road we’ve journeyed.

David Scowsill

Many of you will not know that globally around 1.2bn people travel internationally every year, and that some 63pc of those still have to fill in a manual visa application form, stand in line in pouring rain outside some consular building, and get stamped in the back of your passport to travel.

You compare to when we used to have paper tickets in the airline business and within a matter of two years, the whole aviation industry move from paper ticketing to electronic processing for tickets.

Why cannot this industry go down to same path? It is more customer friendly and it is a lot more secure,

I would like to just refer to the progress that the United States under the current administration has made in the last three or four years.

The US has gone from being worst in the class in the whole aspect of visa processing and welcoming customers to best in class.

so I have talked about what the present is put in place the corporation for travel promotion act, you remember the executive order and the screens that were coming from Brazilian tour operators and Chinese tour operators when the wait was around 150 days to process visas in those countries.

So if you go back at the $600bn of lost income over 10 years since 09/11, you think of transformation that has happened in this industry, in this country to the point where aliens are no longer called aliens anymore, we are visitors and we have machine readable passport technology in the airports on arrival.

This country has made huge progress. However the visa waiver programme is at risk at this point in time.

As an organisation, we fully support what we call freedom to travel and that’s the right of anybody, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity to travel around the world, whenever they wish.

At the moment it is at risk.

At our global summit in Dallas, Secretary Prisco called upon the industry both private sector and public, to work with government on this issue, to make sure, we can expand the visa waiver programme and not restrict it.

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In the light of the San Bernadine incident in November last year, some adjustments have been made to the visa waiver program, now those serves relatively small adjustments, they cause complications if you been to certain countries in the Arab states but what I want to warn about is a government overreaction to these situations,

The San Bernadine incident was I think the 372nd mass killing in the United States last year. Yet through some tenuous link to ISIL, there has been a reaction and change and adjustment to that visa waiver program.

What we would like to do our governments is urge them not to overreact in these situations to stay on the course, perhaps the visa waiver programme is badly named, it should be a trusted traveller programme because within that programme it is more safe and it is more secure.

The first point is the safety and security aspect, much much more safe than some manual visa processing.

The second is the economic benefits from having these visa waiver programme in place. Just think about the movement between Europe and United States.

Some 13m US citizen go in that direction across the pond and around 30m come back the other way from Western Europe.

There is economic benefit around those movements and serious job creation.

The last point, I just want to make and to warn you about, is the issue of conversations going on in the Europe at the moment.

The visa waiver programme receiptical thing between the United States and Canada also and also the European Community.

At the moment, there is a issue, on 12th of April, the European Commission asked for the European Parliament and the Council which is the heads of state in the Europe for an opinion on whether or not, the visa waiver programme with the US and Canada should be effectively cancelled temporarily.

This is because there are five countries, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland, and Romania are not inside that visa waiver program.

We as an organisation. Next week we will have some data points so we know exactly the economic disbenefit of a collapse of the visa waiver programme either side and we will share that data with the commerce department here because we need the data to be apparent before these politicians vote on something so serious.

They are heading towards July 12 deadline with this discussion. Without being too alarmist, this is something that you all need to be aware of, something you all need to be writing about. The implications of changing the status quo in this visa waiver programme are enormous both for jobs and the economic development of this country.

We will give you the information as it comes through, I would ask you bear in mind, think about it. certainly in Europe, we will be doing everything we can to make sure the European Commission does not overreact in this situation.

I am confident the politics and diplomacy will win out in the end.

Todd Davidson

Todd Davidson Chair of the US Travel Association speaking at IPW 2016 in New Orleans, June 21 2016

Todd Davidson Chair of the US Travel Association speaking at IPW 2016 in New Orleans, June 21 2016

Thank you, Roger. This fall, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the US Travel Association.

In October 1941, travel leaders from across the country convened at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. to form an association aimed at promoting and advocating for the travel industry.

That vision has been achieved.

It’s fair to say the strong rapport between our industry and the US government really kicked off in 1960, when President Dwight Eisenhower declared it the “Visit the USA.” year.

We knew our relationship with the White House had durability when President John F Kennedy launched the “See the USA.” campaign in 1963.

Our ties with US commanders-in-chief only strengthened from there. We can count several significant moments for travel that were advanced by Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, among others.

The current administration, though, has been one of the strongest partners in our association’s history.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act, which created Brand USA, our premier partner for IPW.

President Obama also announced a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which seeks to welcome 100 million international visitors to the US by 2021. And as Roger noted, we are well on our way to meeting it.

We’re happy to note that in 2014, Brand USA was reauthorized through 2020 in a refreshingly bipartisan act of Congress.

In addition to our collaborations with government over the decades, I’d be remiss if I did not call out the year 1969, when the first IPW was held in New York City.

From 1941 to 2016, our industry and our organization have come a long way. As such, engagement with our nation’s leaders, and the rest of the world, are ever higher.

We are now, and will always be, a connector of the travel industry, a leader in research and analysis, and a collaborative, trusted advisor to our country’s policymakers, no matter their political persuasion.

And we remain dedicated to advancing legislation that keeps us open and connected to the world.

Gil Kerlikowske

Our partnership with US Travel Association is really critical to us, as is making the welcome to this country best in class.

At Customs and Border Protection, with 60,000 employees, 338 Ports of Entry, and 800 people overseas along with their preclearance personnel, we want to make that experience not only as expeditious as possible and as welcoming as possible. But we want to make sure that we are making it as safe as possible.

In Global Entry, a trusted traveller programme that has proven itself time after time, is one that it is absolutely critical to doing both of those things.

Making that international travel experience welccoming is important because the first person that often times at international visitor sees, where someone coming back home to the United States, is a Customs and Border Protection Officer.

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We want them to welcome people back to the United States, to welcome them home. We want to welcome people coming into this country. But we also want to make sure that our primary mission which is the security of this country is being upheld.

Global Entry does all of those thing. Today the opportunity presents itself to be able to announce that we have our three millionth customer. When you walk through K-Mart of Wall-Mart, all the balloons should come down and the three millionth person announced. We don’t have baloons but we have 3m people involved in Global Entry and that is a great experience for all of us.

Safety and the travel facilitation is a dual mission that Customs and Border Protection has. On any given day, we welcome 300,000 incoming passengers and crew members and we have to carefully balance our uncompromising vigilance with the efficiency and the inspection process.

Over the next five years, international travellers are projected to increase at an annual rate of 4pc but we also know the difficulty of projections so as many of you know, we are up almost 7pc in international travellers so far this year.

Global Entry is exciting and it is a challenging environment and we have risen to the task because we also use the technology to expedite the entry.

Global entry transforms and technology transforms the way we do business. Using the automated kiosks and bypassing regular passport control queues in entering the United States, that’s what a Global Entry member gets.

Along with Global Entry, you also get TSA pre-check as another trusted traveller program.

That means that we are concentrating less on low risk travellers and more on people that could be of greater security concern to us,

Global Entry applications have increased by 77pc this year and kiosks are available in 47 US Airports. They are also available by the way 13 of our international preclearance locations. The average processing time for global entry member at a kiosk is approximately one minute.

The kiosks have been used 22m times. They have saved more than 3,00,000 of our officer hours allowing us to shift that focus again to higher priorities.

That means also for you less time in line for busy travellers.

Other technology driven solutions, that the Chicago Airport helped to pioneer, for example, that there automated passport control and mobile passport control, travellers arriving in the United States are screened and processed more efficiently than ever and that’s good for us,

We just announced open season for preclearance. Currently we are negotiated with ten airports in nine countries. Now through August other countries and airports can also express an interest to us in whether or not they would like to engage in preclearance

Those foreign airports are submitting letters to us now and will be working with them carefully. Preclearance allows all United States Immigration Systems, Customs Systems, Agriculture, and International Air Passengers to all be completely before they ever take off for the United States.

It is predictable and it is seamless, 17m travellers went through 1 of CVPs preclearance locations last fiscal year, Canada, Ireland, Caribbean, United Arab Emirates all in that last fiscal year, and that accounts for about 15pc of US bound air travel.

Currently with this open season, which lasts through August, we will talk to other countries and other airports who may express interest in this,

CVP as we just announced recently in England, is global entry is available there. We will be announcing global entry in Singapore also.

It is really exciting times. The use of technology, the use of our people welcoming back home or welcoming people to this country are all an effort to make best in the class travel experiences, one that is most both efficient and one that is safe.

These trusted traveller programs are important. I am very excited.

Roger Dow

This relationship with US leaders is particularly critical in light of current events.

Travel often finds itself in a challenging position in the wake of events such as terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, when the Visa Waiver Program, one of our most valuable security and travel facilitation programs, came under intense scrutiny.

The VWP is tremendously important to the US,both for our national security, our economy and our diplomatic relations.

Nearly 52 percent of overseas visitors to the US in 2015 arrived here under the VWP.

These travelers generated $119 billion in economic impact for the US economy and supported more than 780,000 American jobs.

A few less-than-informed US leaders called for shutting this program down entirely. However, through active engagement with our lawmakers, we were able to preserve and even enhance it.

The VWP opens our country to legitimate travelers from a variety of allied nations, and is widely embraced by partner countries involved.

Unfortunately, some EU policymakers have suggested suspending VWP reciprocity altogether because not all EU nations have qualified to enter this program.

I’ve spoken about the value of the VWP to America. I’d now like to invite to the stage David Scowsill, of the World Travel and Tourism Council, to share a more global perspective on the VWP. He’ll also provide more detail on the EU reciprocity debate, and discuss his organization’s efforts to head off any such suspension.

We hope the EU will make the right decision and uphold VWP agreements with the US.

The VWP is one example of a trusted traveler program that’s crucial to our industry. It’s important travelers process through security efficiently when they arrive, as they move about the country and when they leave. Trusted traveler programs keep everyone safer while giving travelers the efficient, 21st-century screening process they deserve.

Many of you have no doubt heard recent stories about long lines at US airport security checkpoints. Thankfully, TSA has tackled this issue head-on—99 percent of travelers now wait less than 30 minutes in security lines, and 93 percent wait less than 15 minutes.

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Our organization will continue to help TSA in their efforts to streamline the security process at US airports by aggressively advocating for increasing enrollment in TSA PreCheck, a valuable trusted traveler program.

US Travel is dedicated in particular to streamlining the security process for international visitors coming to our country—after all, first impressions are important, and a slow, inefficient entry process can deter visits.

We aim to do this two ways. One, we want to expand a trusted traveler program that many of you may be more familiar with, Global Entry, which is run by US Customs and Border Protection.

Global Entry, like TSA PreCheck, allows pre-screened travelers to pass through special lanes for a much faster security process—it makes the entry or re-entry process into the US much more pleasant.

Additionally, we actively promote the expansion of CBP’s preclearance locations. Preclearance, which many of you may have passed through in your travels, allows travelers to clear customs at designated foreign airports with direct service to the US.

Clearing customs before entry to the US allows travelers to skip the often lengthy lines at the airport when they arrive. Adding more preclearance locations around the world will also help reduce the workload for US customs agents, allowing them to focus attention on apprehending actual threats.

I’d like to invite to the stage my good friend Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, to discuss what CBP is doing to improve the entry process by expanding Global Entry and pre clearance. Your partnership is of huge value to our organization, and to our industry.

Once international visitors actually arrive, they need to be able to get around safely and efficiently, especially since they tend to visit at least two different destinations, on average, while they’re here in the US.

Our travel infrastructure is what keeps travelers, and indeed our entire nation, connected. That’s why another key priority of ours is improving our nation’s infrastructure—fixing the state of our roads, rails, and airports.

We’ve had some successes this year on this front.

  • We saw the passage of the first long-term highway bill in a decade. Notably, this legislation gives travel and tourism leaders a seat at the table when major surface transportation projects are being planned.
  • We’ve also changed the conversation in Washington on airport modernization. We want airports to have the ability to increase capacity, welcome more carriers, and better connect us to underserved markets.
  • We need more entrants into the aviation market, more capacity for passengers, and more choice for travelers if we’re going to meet our goal of 100 million international visitors to the US by 2021.
  • Good news on that front: pleased to see that Condor Airlines will operate service between Frankfurt and New Orleans starting next summer.

US Travel wants to make sure more flights like this open up, and we are doing so by actively working to preserve and expand our Open Skies agreements with other nations.

Before I wrap up today’s remarks, I’d like to address a few remaining issues that have our attention.

Regarding the Zika virus: we recently called upon Congress to swiftly approve adequate funding for stopping the spread of the virus, and remain in close contact with White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another item on my mind: the I-visa process. It’s important for me to get your feedback on this process, as it gives me first-hand evidence to present when making a case for policy reforms.

In fact, right here at IPW, I have met with Ed Ramotowski, with Visa Services at the State Department, and have voiced your concerns.

Now… despite some headlines, good things actually DO happen in our nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. will be next year’s host city.

In fact, I’m excited to have confirmed IPW dates and locations througj 2024, as you can see:

  • In 2017, IPW in our nation’s capital;
  • In 2018, we’ll be in Denver, “the mile-high city,” capital of mountainous Colorado;
  • In 2019, we invite you to sunny Anaheim, California, on America’s West Coast;
  • 2020 brings IPW to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada;
  • In 2021, we’ll return to the windy city, Chicago, Illinois;
  • In 2022, beloved vacation spot Orlando, Florida will host;
  • 2023 will take us deep in the heart of Texas to San Antonio, home of the Alamo;
  • And finally, in 2024, we’ll be California dreamin’ in Los Angeles.

All will be tremendous hosts.

We have a lot ahead of us yet this year, though.

The US presidential election takes place this November.

While there’s been a lot of partisan rancour, travel is bipartisan. As you heard from Todd earlier, we have a history of successful collaboration with presidential administrations from both sides of the political aisle.

We will work with the next president, whoever it may be, to make sure that the US enacts smart policies that welcome legitimate travelers to our country, and keep us open and connected to our ever-changing world.

I think everyone has heard me loud and clear. Though we may face a few storms ahead, we will weather them, and the US must stay open, and stay connected.

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