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US launches plan to bring back foreign tourists

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A plan announced by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hopes to spur more international travelers to the United States after a slowdown in tourism due to the pandemic./AFP
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Jun 07, 2022 - 09:17 AM

WASHINGTON — In an effort to win back billions of dollars in tourism revenue lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, the US government on Monday launched a plan to attract 90 million international travelers a year.

The five-year plan aims to add jobs and bring in an estimated $279 billion a year in spending by visiting tourists, the Commerce Department said.

“The impact of Covid-19 has taken a toll on our national and local economies, but it also has presented us with a unique opportunity to mold a more inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient travel and tourism industry than ever before,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

Prior to the pandemic, travel and tourism generated a $53.4 billion trade surplus and supported a million US jobs, the statement said.

In 2019, nearly 80 million international travelers visited the country and contributed almost $240 billion to the US economy, but that dropped by more than half in 2020.

With widespread availability of vaccines, monthly overseas arrivals have increased to more than two million in April 2022, up from roughly 775,000 in October 2021.

That means international travel has generated a trade surplus in each of the past five months — a positive indication the sector is trending toward recovery, the statement said.

The five-year National Travel and Tourism Strategy will focus on increasing promotion of US destinations, especially to underrepresented sites, and improving communication about health status and requirements.

It also will offer help for local authorities to improve infrastructure at tourist sites, and offer more green travel options, as well as using technology to smooth travel in areas such as security and screening, according to the plan.

“Our new strategy leverages the best of what the US public and private sectors offer, which will promote jobs, recover lost revenues, and inspire unforgettable experiences,” Raimondo said.

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