Dow extolled the industry's above-average growth rate, emphasized the need to enact travel-friendly policies to keep travel thriving and underscored U.S. Travel's ongoing commitment to monitor conditions and trends. Excerpts from Dow's remarks are included below.
"Travel continues to be an economic powerhouse. The dynamism of our industry was on full display last year, setting records across the board—2.1 billion domestic trips; 74 million in international visitors; $927 billion in travel expenditures; and 8 million workers directly employed in travel jobs."
On policy issues:
"Top agenda items include protecting and advancing the Visa Waiver Program; improving travel facilitation, such as the entry process; and modernizing America's travel infrastructure and airports.
"The U.S. Visa Waiver Program strengthens our homeland security, as affirmed by leading security experts through high levels of intelligence sharing among participating nations...
"Modernizing America's travel infrastructure, including airports and the air travel system, is central to our nation's long-term success...This starts with Congress reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Surface Transportation programs this year."
On economic conditions and trends:
"[T]he travel industry does not operate in a vacuum, and we are paying close attention to developments that could impact travel...
"Gasoline prices...have fallen to the lowest level since May 2009. Persistent low prices are good for travel, as people are more likely to hit the road for trips and will have greater purchasing power for other goods and services.
"Since mid-last year, the strength of the dollar has increased by about 7 percent. This is good news for Americans, but what does it mean for inbound international travel? It would take some time for a sustained change to the dollar to have an affect here...[T]he cost of consumer goods here in the U.S. remains lower compared to many other major economies around the world."
Watch Dow's full address here.