Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale
Manufacturing and Services
Export-Import Bank of the United States Global Access Forum
Friday, August 24, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Happy Aloha Friday!!! It’s great to be here with you today. I want to thank Ex-Im Bank and the conference organizers, especially Patricia Loui, for inviting me, and Senator Akaka for suggesting that I be included.
I especially want to thank the Senator and the other members of the Hawaiian delegation, as well as the Tourism Caucus, for their strong support of our efforts to increase U.S. exports through travel and tourism.
I am so glad to participate in this Global Access Forum, part of Ex-Im’s initiative to increase the number of small businesses exporting goods and services to sustain and create U.S. jobs.
The Global Access Forum concept continues to demonstrate that small businesses are the key to generating exports, jobs and renewed growth in the American economy.
The Department of Commerce was an early and enthusiastic supporter. We know that America’s 28 million small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms and employ half of the private sector workforce. These small businesses create two of every three net new American jobs.
In the travel and tourism industry these businesses include travel agencies, tour operators, convention and visitors bureaus, casinos, B&Bs and other lodging providers, concessionaires, outfitters and guides, and many more.
The International Trade Administration offers a variety of programs for small and medium-sized businesses, as we heard earlier from John Holman about the U.S. Export Assistance Center and the programs of the U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service.
The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, which is in my area of responsibility, provides research, analysis, and policy direction for the industry. Our office coordinated development of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy and serves as the liaison to the new Corporation for Travel Promotion, doing business as Brand USA.
So, I am pleased to participate in today’s program because of its focus on travel and tourism, which has a very special role in the Obama Administration’s long-term jobs strategy.
Before I continue, I'd like to share with you that I was touched by the Aloha spirit yesterday! I had the pleasure of joining the HTA at the Tourism Legacy Awards Luncheon where I was immersed in Hawaiian Culture as a result of the presentations and tutoring by Governor Abercrombie who sat next to me! I then had the pleasure of visiting Kualoa Ranch where John Morgan accompanied me on my tour and where I observed, among other things, the ancient Hawaiian innovation of the fish pond and some of the most breathtaking vistas of Oahu. And, to cap it off, I walked where Godzilla and a few dinosaurs walked! I ended my day with dinner at Roy's Waikiki where Roy Yamaguchi, a board member of Brand USA, that I will speak about in a moment, and his wonderful wife Denise introduced me to Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. I'm here to tell you that from what I can see, the Aloha spirit is alive and well!
I don’t know about you, but I was enthralled with watching the Olympics in London.
I’m told Hawaii had two favorite daughters as part of the Olympic wrestling team – Stephany Lee and Clarissa Dunn, who won a bronze medal.
What is exciting about the Olympics is the great diversity of sport on display and the competitiveness on the world stage.
That ability to compete is critical whether you are an Olympian or a small business.
Every day Hawaiian companies compete on the global stage as you export goods and services to customers across the globe.
It is the Obama administration's desire that you win the gold every time, and it’s our job to ensure that the playing field is level for you as you do what you do best – compete.
National Export Initiative
The Obama Administration understands that exporting is good for American business, good for American workers and good for American jobs. That is why we are committed to working with U.S. companies to help American-made goods and services succeed in the global market.
I have some good news on U.S. exporting to share.
U.S. exports have continued to increase this year, despite some tough economic conditions abroad.
We recently celebrated the second anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to increase U.S. exports in order to support millions of American jobs here at home.
In April, we announced that 1.2 million more Americans have export-supported jobs as a result of our exports having increased by one-third from 2009 to 2011.
Through the first six months of 2012, U.S. goods and services exports were up 5.9 percent to reach $1.1 trillion, more than was exported in the whole year of 2003.
Despite a challenging international economic environment, U.S. businesses are on track to export more than $2.1 trillion in goods and services this year.
Importance of Travel and Tourism to the United States
Led by travel and tourism, services exports totaled a record $606 billion in 2011, up 19 percent since 2009. This record meant our trade surplus in services reached an all-time high of $179 billion in 2011.
Last year, 62 million international visitors came to the United States and spent a record $153 billion on U.S. travel- and tourism-related goods and services, which are counted as U.S. exports.
In fact, travel and tourism exports last year lowered the trade deficit by $42.8 billion and supported 1.1 million jobs across the country.
And, the good news continues in 2012. On Tuesday, we announced that through the first six months of 2012, international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism related goods and services year to date, an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period in 2011. This new data confirms that the U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for another record setting year and, if these trends continue, international visitors could inject more than $169 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy
In recognizing that link between travel and tourism and exports, the President signed an Executive Order in January establishing a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness to develop a set of recommendations to promote domestic and international travel to and within the United States with the goal of increasing the United States’ share of worldwide travel.
The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior served as co-chairs of the Task Force.
Several other agencies, including Ex-Im and SBA, were actively engaged and participated fully in the development of the National Strategy from beginning to end.
The Task Force also received a significant amount of stakeholder input into the process, including submissions from state tourism offices, convention and visitor bureaus, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and industry associations, including interests in Hawaii.
Components of the National Strategy
The Task Force’s comprehensive government-wide strategy encourages travelers to choose America as the world’s premier tourism destination. It will better facilitate entering into and traveling across the United States, and will foster greater cooperation with the private sector to provide a world-class U.S. travel experience that will encourage visitors to extend their stays and return to see more.
Our goal is simple yet bold: Increase American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who we estimate will spend $250 billion, annually by the end of 2021. We will also encourage Americans to travel within the United States and its territories to see all that our country has to offer.
The Strategy has four components to achieve our goal:
First we will aggressively promote the United States. Promotion strategies include creating a positive and welcoming message for international visitors; expanding promotional efforts by the United States government; coordinating with Brand USA; and using technology to enhance and tailor information for visitors.
Second, we will facilitate travel and tourism to and within the United States. We will do that by reducing institutional barriers to the free flow of trade in travel services (such as negotiating Open Skies agreements); expanding the Visa Waiver Program; expediting U.S. visa processing to meet the expected growth in demand; expanding trusted traveler programs; and improving the processes for arrival and aviation security screening.
Third, we will provide world-class customer service, which includes ensuring a high quality experience for travelers at government sites and on federal lands and waters; supporting workforce development; providing access to capital and tools for small businesses; and piloting innovative ways to use technology to provide information and interpret content for non-English speaking visitors.
Fourth, we will better coordinate across government, by more effectively coordinating federal policies and programs through the interagency Tourism Policy Council; and establishing a national travel and tourism office at the U.S. Department of Commerce that will among other things, serve as the primary point of contact for the travel and tourism industry within the federal government and provide day to day support needed to implement the National Travel and Tourism Strategy.
Implementation of the National Strategy
We are already hard at work at turning the Strategy into reality.
The Department of State launched a “50 States in 50 Days” program on its website, driving traffic to the DiscoverAmerica.com website, which is Brand USA’s consumer site.
The Department of the Interior is developing travel itineraries around gateway communities, national parks and other federal resources to encourage travelers to see and do more while they are visiting federal properties.
We in the Department of Commerce are working with the Chinese government to add provinces from which group leisure tours are allowed, and with the NTA to aggressively pursue this market. In fact, we are completing a Market Development Cooperator Program project with the NTA on this.
Opening the Chinese market is important because in 2011, the United States welcomed nearly 1.1 million visitors from China, a 36 percent increase from 2010. As a result, Chinese visitors spent a record-breaking $5.7 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States.
The Department of Commerce’s forecast for international travel calls for significant continued growth of travelers from China through 2016. Private sector efforts here in Hawaii (and on the Mainland) should remain focused on this market to capitalize on this growth.
However, it is not just government agencies that promote and increase travel and tourism. We are working closely with our private sector partners as well.
A key partner for us is the Corporation for Travel Promotion, doing business as Brand USA. Created by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, Brand USA just launched its new U.S. tourism promotion program at the end of April.
In May, they began their promotional efforts in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.
Japan remains a very important source market for the islands, as well as the Mainland, so we are encouraged that Japanese business is returning.
- With 3.25 million arrivals in 2011, Japan remains the United States’ fourth largest visitor market and our second largest market for visitor spending.
- Brand USA is working closely with the Japanese travel trade to build linkages and cooperative efforts that will provide opportunities to further increase visitation from Japan.
Brand USA also is working with the Departments of State and Homeland Security to coordinate messages in the marketplace (such as providing information at U.S. Consular offices) and has established its objectives and marketing plan to guide these efforts.
Importance of Travel and Tourism in Hawaii
I know travel and tourism is critically important to the economy of Hawaii as one of its leading industries.
So it’s good news that business so far this year has been robust.
Researchers report room revenues at Hawaii hotels rose 14.8 percent statewide during the first half of 2012, compared to 2011, to reach a record $1.59 billion.
This reflects the 21.4 percent increase in total visitor expenditures and 10.2 percent increase in visitor arrivals during the first six months of the year as reported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority in July.
I know Hawaii is also doing its part to attract international visitors to grow its economy. In 2011, overseas visitation to Hawaii totaled 2.3 million, up 7 percent from 2010.
Hawaii Represents the Best of Travel and Tourism
I am encouraged by these numbers because Hawaii represents the very best of what America has to offer in the way of travel and tourism.
That’s true at Disney’s Aulani [OW la nee], which celebrates Hawaiian culture, history and traditions at a world class resort and spa.
It is also true at one of the world’s most important humpback whale habitats, the marine sanctuary jointly managed by NOAA and the state of Hawaii, which connects visitors to the wonders of the natural environment.
And it’s true at Outfitters Kauai [Kah why], which opened Kauai's first zipline alongside a Kipu Ranch site used in the filming of the movie Jurassic Park.
These are all great places international visitors love to discover, and we need to do all that is in our power to bring international visitors to see them.
We are confident that our efforts in travel and tourism are working to increase exports under the National Export Initiative. As the Chairman of the Federal Reserve recently said to Senator Akaka, travel and tourism is one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy.
The implementation of the National Strategy and our work with private sector partners will be crucial in further realizing travel and tourism’s potential to create jobs over the next decade. We are working with speed and intensity to ensure that federal agencies make the necessary improvements and that Brand USA launches successfully.
We look forward to continuing to work with you and our colleagues in the travel and tourism industry to meet the goals of the Travel Promotion Act and to ensure that the unique public-private partnership it created delivers on the full promise of this vital industry and the unrivaled travel and tourism resources this country has to offer.
Thank you for your hospitality and for inviting me to participate in this important event, which will help increase exports and support our successful implementation of the National Export Initiative and the National Strategy for Travel and Tourism. Mahalo (muh-hah-low)!
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