AAHOA President & CEO
AAHOA is well-positioned to help shape the priorities and perspectives of the travel industry.
Travel is an integral part of the American experience, and our industry thrives on it. From colonial innkeepers, to the hoteliers who saw opportunity along Route 66, to AAHOA’s nearly 18,000 members, all can attest that providing a home away from home can be a successful business – provided that people have the means and incentive to venture beyond their front door, their neighborhoods or their comfort zones. That is why I am pleased to represent AAHOA as a member on the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors.
U.S. Travel gives our industry an even greater platform to voice our interests on many high-impact issue areas, and they share our pro-growth, pro-competition and pro-traveler philosophies. As AAHOA’s voice on the board, I will be representing our perspective on multiple issues such as infrastructure redevelopment, trusted traveler and visa waiver programs, and travel and trade promotion to raise the profile and appeal of American destinations even higher.
Traffic and air travel seem to be getting worse just about everywhere. Our roads and infrastructure just haven’t kept up with American’s demand for the freedom afforded by a set of wheels, and the U.S. aviation system now ranks ninth worldwide. Ask anyone about their most recent road trip on Labor Day weekend or flight home for Thanksgiving, and a thousand-yard stare is bound to fall across their face. If travelers skip out on just one road trip per year, our economy would lose about $23 billion in spending. That number jumps if one factors in flights not taken, and all that spending directly supports 208,000 American jobs, many in the hotel industry. I’ll work with our industry partners to advocate for greater investments in highways, transit infrastructure, airport modernization, and expanded air service so that travelers won’t even think twice about heading out on their next journey.
America has many great destinations for citizens and foreign visitors alike. And more travelers mean more guests for hoteliers – it’s that simple. With a seat on the board, AAHOA will continue to lend its voice to the call to make travel easier, whether it’s reforming the customs and entry process, reducing wait times for visas, or protecting J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs to allow for more consistent access to staffing resources. 2016 saw over 37.6 million overseas visitors to the U.S., and 74 percent of them left with a more favorable view of our nation. We are a nation of great destinations, cultures, people and cities, and it only makes sense to make it easier to showcase them to the world.
We’ll continue to fight to protect the Brand USA initiative, because, for every $1 invested, our economy gets $27 returned. Visitors spend a good amount on hotels and lodging, and this public-private partnership that promotes travel to America throughout the world helps bring in billions to small businesses across the nation. In fact, the average overseas traveler spends $4,400 while visiting the United States.
I’m excited by this opportunity to bring AAHOA’s unique perspective to the U.S. Travel Association’s Board of Directors. With a membership that owns nearly one in two hotels across the country, we will be well-positioned to help shape the priorities and perspectives of the broader travel industry.