Speaking at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, the President talked about the impact that travel and tourism has on our country. During his 15 minute address, President Obama acknowledged Scott Donahue, CEO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) for their leadership in reducing customs wait times down to an average of 15 minutes at two of the nation's busiest airports, DFW and ORD. Click here to view the video.
The progress report released yesterday, entitled Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth, provides a summary of how travel and tourism drives the U.S. economy and supports millions of jobs across the country. Key takeaways include:
- In 2013, the travel and tourism industry supported 8 million jobs. Of these, 1.3 million of were supported by international travelers.
- Travel and tourism is one of America's most important services exports, accounting for 27 percent of all services exports and generating a net trade surplus of $57 billion in 2013.
- The number of international visitors has grown from 55 million in 2009 to 70 million in 2013, and each overseas visitor spends on average $4,500 per visit, at American hotels, shops, restaurants, and other domestic businesses.
- The growth in international visitors has supported roughly 175,000 American jobs over the past five years.
The report also stressed the importance of continuing to build on the administration's travel and tourism success by increasing visitation to the U.S. from emerging markets including Brazil, China and India; continuing to improve Visa facilitation; and expediting the entry and arrival process at U.S. ports of entry.
Recent improvements to CBP processes at Chicago O'Hare were cited in the President's report to demonstrate that improvements to the entry process and reduction in wait times at ports of entry across the U.S. are possible through close partnerships with airports and industry.
As noted in the report, Chicago O'Hare has seen passenger growth of seven percent this year-the second fastest growth of any top 10 airport- and has partnered with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on improved queuing, signage, passenger flow, Global Entry, and critically, Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks. To implement the innovative APC technology, Chicago O'Hare collaborated with Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) to installBorderXpress by YVR APC kiosks in the summer of 2013, which expedite the customs clearance process by an average of 89 percent. The results have been dramatic. Over a 12-month period, average CBP wait times at O'Hare were cut in half, from about 30 minutes to 15 minutes.
"As the President's report shows, Chicago is at the leading edge for implementing new programs and technology to facilitate international travel and improve the customer experience for visitors arriving at our global gateway, O'Hare International Airport. We are very fortunate that the President's Administration is supportive of growing the travel industry, and we are working very hard to help him, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meet these goals," said Rosemarie S. Andolino, Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). "Boosting travel and tourism are very important to Chicago's economy and to Mayor Emanuel's goal to host 55 million visitors by 2020."