AMERICAN CITIES AND STATES CONVENE IN BERLIN TO DISCUSS FIRST-EVER GLOBAL MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS CAMPAIGN PROMOTING TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES

—Landmark Travel Promotion Act Represents Move Toward Making Travel to the United States Easier for Overseas Visitors—

Berlin, Germany (March 11, 2010)—The U.S. Travel Association and NYC & Company—New York City’s marketing, tourism and partnership organization—were joined today by representatives from 21 US destinations and President Obama’s administration to discuss the passage of the Travel Promotion Act, signed into law by Obama on March 4. U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow and NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta discussed the details of the Travel Promotion Act and its goal to welcome more foreign visitors by establishing a global marketing and communications campaign while improving America’s image and explaining new security policies to foreign travelers. The press conference took place at ITB Berlin, one of the world’s largest trade shows in the travel industry. The show runs from March 10 to 14.

“In this growing and very competitive global travel industry, the Travel Promotion Act sends out a clear message that travel is a high priority to our nation and that tangible steps must be taken to increase travel to and within the United States,” said Dow. “It will help put us on par with other destinations around the world—destinations that already have a national tourism office to help attract more international visitors.”

“As the country’s number one port of entry for overseas visitors, we understand the importance of a new national marketing program along with more clarity regarding entry procedures,” said Fertitta. “Whether visitors are coming to explore New York City’s five boroughs or simply connect to their next destination, our job is to make the process more welcoming and inviting to our foreign guests, and the Travel Promotion Act is a great first step toward this goal.”

The Travel Promotion Act calls for the creation of a nonprofit corporation to establish the nation’s first-ever national promotional program to attract visitors to the United States. The new public–private partnership will promote the United States as a premier travel destination and better explain security policies to foreign travelers. It also marks the first major step of the Obama administration’s efforts to improve global perception and acknowledge the importance of travel and tourism. The new law shows a commitment from the federal government to the travel industry and is one step toward improving the travel experience of international travelers to the United States.

Funding for the program will be generated from private-sector contributions and up to $100 million in public-sector matching funds. Public money will be generated from a $10 fee on foreign travelers from countries not required to pay the $131 fee for a visa to enter the United States. The fee will be charged once every two years with renewal of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) with unlimited trips for travelers during the two-year period for no extra fee. Many countries currently charge entry and exit fees for various purposes that are included in the cost of an airline ticket; most exceed $10, with some charging more than $100 per trip.

Background:

While the overall overseas visitation to the United States decreased in 2009 by an estimated 1.8 million visitors compared to 2008, New York City was the most popular US destination for overseas visitors in 2009, with approximately 7.5 million tourists. In total New York City welcomed an estimated 8.6 million international visitors in 2009, which includes visitors from Canada and Mexico.

In January NYC & Company projected a 3.2 percent increase in visitation to New York City for 2010 and announced that NYC remained on track to achieve its goal to attract 50 million visitors annually by 2012. These totals are expected to increase with the support of a national marketing program that will target international visitors—who typically spend five times more than their domestic counterparts. On average, overseas visitors to the United States spend in excess of $4,000 per trip. Oxford Economics estimates that a well-executed national promotion program will attract 1.6 million new international visitors to the United States annually and create $4 billion in new spending.

ITB Berlin is a combination of trade exhibition and public exhibition, and is the largest professional travel convention worldwide, attracting 180,000 visitors and 11,000 exhibitors every year. Germany is one of the top European markets for overseas visitation to New York City. According to NYC & Company, in 2009 approximately 540,000 visitors arrived from Germany. In spite of the moderate slowdown last year of German and other overseas arrivals to New York City, NYC is expected to remain the number one destination in the United States for German travelers, with approximately one-third of all German visitors to the country coming to New York.

About the U.S. Travel Association:

The U.S. Travel Association is the national nonprofit organization representing all components of the $770 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. U.S. Travel is proud to be a partner in travel with American Express®. For more information, visit ustravel.org.

About NYC & Company:

NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide. For more information, visit nycgo.com.

For more press inquiries please contact Chris Heywood at 212.484.1270