Government AffairsEstablishment of new high-level position signals the growing importance the American government is giving to tourism.

At long last, US will soon get first-ever tourism chief

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The US is the only G20 country without a federal agency or cabinet-level official in charge of tourism policy.
The US is the only G20 country without a federal agency or cabinet-level official in charge of tourism policy. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Orhan Çam

The US will establish its first tourism-focused assistant secretary position as part of the US$1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress Friday.

The massive bill includes the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act, which establishes the position of assistant secretary of travel and tourism in the US Department of Commerce, among other travel industry priorities.

American Society of Travel Advisors' (ASTA) executive vice president for advocacy, Eben Peck, said that creating a high-level leadership position within the federal government “would protect the industry from unnecessary setbacks due to conflicting and confusing policy decisions in the future,” and he said this person would “implement national strategies and policies that grow travel”.

“This is a tremendous win for travellers, the travel industry, and America’s economy,” said US Travel CEO Geoff Freeman. “The assistant secretary will play an important role as we partner with government to lower visitor visa wait times, modernise security screening and leverage new technologies to make travel more seamless and secure.”

Both Peck and Freeman pointed out that the US is the only G20 country without a federal agency or cabinet-level official in charge of tourism policy.

Most of the world's most visited countries, including France, Italy, Thailand, Spain and neighboring Canada and Mexico, have high-level government officials who oversee tourism. Travel industry leaders here say the lack of a similar official in the US has been a hindrance to growth.

Source: Travel Weekly

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