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Press Release



Salazar Meets with Local Business Leaders on How to Boost Travel & Tourism in U.S. at Las Vegas and San Diego Town Halls



04/04/2012


Contact: Adam Fetcher, (DOI) 202-208-6416


SAN DIEGO, CA—Today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is meeting with local business leaders in Las Vegas, Nevada and San Diego, California to discuss strategies to boost domestic and international travel and tourism in the United States. The tourism town halls will help inform President Obama’s initiative – launched in January – to create a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs by becoming even more welcoming to guests from here at home and across the globe.

The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increased its share of the international travel market.

“Travel and tourism is America’s number one service export, attracting 62 million international visitors and pumping $153 billion dollars into the American economy in 2011 alone,” said Secretary Salazar. “As we look to grow our nation’s economy, the travel and tourism industry is a source for great economic opportunity. Today’s conversations are helping to identify new ways to raise the profile of our country’s most iconic destinations and make America more welcoming to visitors from all over the world.”

In Las Vegas, Secretary Salazar met with Senator Harry Reid, Governor Brian Sandoval, and Chairman of BrandUSA Stephen J. Cloobeck, along with local business leaders, to discuss how to design and promote travel itineraries that will draw more visitors to Southern Nevada and encourage them to plan lengthier trips to the region. In 2010, tourism and recreational activities on Interior-managed lands in Nevada supported more than 9,000 jobs and contributed $978.2 million in economic output.

“There is no better place to discuss tourism than Las Vegas, the world’s premier destination,” said Senator Reid. “Tourism is a key driver of Nevada’s economy, and I am pleased that President Obama has taken important steps to significantly increase travel to states like ours. Welcoming more foreign visitors to the United States will boost our economy and create jobs.”

“As we spend these marketing dollars that are based on returns on invested capital, we are asking the President and his team to help make the United States more welcoming,” said Chairman Cloobeck. “That means that we smile and greet all guests - and when they leave this great land, we thank them for coming and ask them to come back soon.”

Later today, Secretary Salazar will host a travel and tourism meeting at the San Diego Zoo in California. The zoo is one of the centerpieces of a local tourism industry that contributes more than $17 billion into the city’s economy and supports 160,000 jobs in the area. Salazar will be joined by U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis and San Diego Zoo Global President Rick Gulley for the discussion with members from the local travel and tourism industry.

“I am pleased to have my former colleague, Secretary Salazar, here in America’s Finest City,” said Congresswoman Davis. “When people think of our region, they often think of the world famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, the crown jewel of San Diego. As the economy continues to improve, it is important to focus our attention on what we do best and tourism is one of San Diego strongest assets.”

"We are delighted to be part of this national conversation about tourism in the United States." said Rick Gulley, President of San Diego Zoo Global. "Here at the San Diego Zoo we host guests from all over the world who come here to be connected with wildlife and help us support the conservation of endangered species."

In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce released data revealing that international and domestic tourism spending increased 8.1% in 2011, supporting an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million. A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 62 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 2.5 million from the year before. These international visitors spent an all time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.

In January, President Obama signed an Executive Order and announced new initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States, including taking steps to improve the process for international tourists that apply for visas, especially in countries with rapidly expanding economies such as China and Brazil, while keeping America secure.

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