Art Works Blog

Tourism and the Arts: A Profitable Partnership

To learn more about tourism and the arts, check out the most recent Cultural Heritage Traveler report.

Back in the Stone Age, when I first got into the travel and tourism industry, I helped develop an educational seminar we called “Tourism and the Arts: A Profitable Partnership.” I worked closely with representatives from destination marketing organizations (DMO) around the country (state tourism offices and city convention and visitors bureaus) and various national, local, and state arts organizations to craft a day-long seminar we implemented in communities interested in the idea that those from the DMO world and those from the arts world should find mutual success by working more closely together to take advantage of one another’s strengths.

To our surprise, we discovered that while those of us at the “50,000-foot level” assumed that DMOs understood the arts community and the arts community understood the tourism marketing efforts that were being undertaken by their local, state, or regional DMOs, the truth is that even their vocabularies were vastly different, making their working together a challenge! Imagine how difficult it would be to try to do business with someone whose language you didn’t share or understand, with no option for translation.

I believe that series of seminars was one of the very first attempts to consciously “marry” tourism and the arts. Fortunately, since those days, a million years ago, proponents of tourism and the arts have learned to work more collaboratively for mutual benefit and success; though my suspicion is that everyone could (and should) be doing more to continue to bridge those gaps, learn more about the other’s language (and needs), and work toward the common goal of increasing travel and tourism to and within the United States.

Speaking of increasing travel and tourism to and within the United States---since my current office, the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, is strongly focused on increasing exports through increased international travel and tourism, I’d like to provide some brief highlights of the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the nation’s economy and well-being:

In 2011, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.2 trillion in economic impact and supported 7.6 million jobs in the United States.

Last year, 62 million international visitors came here and spent a record $153 billion on related goods and services, making it our leading services export, and

According to our latest report, travel and tourism exports are up 12 percent for April ($14 billion) and up 13 percent year-to-date, for a total of $54.6 billion.

OTTI prepares a spring and a fall update to the International Travel Forecast, containing visitor volume estimates to the United States for each of 200 countries.

Our office’s spring 2012 travel forecast calls for inbound growth in travelers to average nearly five percent from 2011 through 2016.

Between 2004 and 2011, the years immediately following the aftermath of 9/11 and the SARS [epidemic] and beyond, the number of international visitors to the United States has largely been on an uphill climb, save for 2009 when we saw the global recession impact travel and tourism directly. Our overall forecast for growth is that from the 2011 actual figure of 62 million visitors to the end of the forecast period in 2016, international travel to the United States will reach nearly 77 million, including: 8.3 million from overseas markets, 4.5 million from Canada, and 1.6 million from Mexico.

Compared to 2011, the forecast calls for growth of five percent in 2012 and a total of 23 percent growth over the next five years. This level of growth would produce more than 14 million additional visitors in the year 2016, and equates to a compound annual growth rate of 4.2 percent over the five years.

Our top 10 markets, in order, are: Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Brazil, France, Korea, China, and Australia.

Total visitor volume is forecast to grow to nearly 77 million, an increase of more than 14 million visitors compared to 2011.

Total growth over this period will be 23 percent. The highest growth rates will be from China (198 percent), Brazil (70 percent), and Australia (45 percent).

These growth rates equate to compound annual growth rates of 4.2 percent across all countries, but ranging from a high of more than 24 percent for China to a low of around two percent for the U.K., Mexico, and Japan.

Increased numbers of international visitors also equate to increased numbers of jobs. We estimate that for every 65 international visitors who come to the United States, one new job is created. In addition, the travel and tourism industry is one in which increased demand generates jobs more quickly than for some other industries.

As a result of the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the nation’s economy, President Obama issued an Executive Order on January 19, 2012 calling for the development of a National Travel and Tourism Strategy. The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior led the Task Force which worked tirelessly for 90 days to deliver a strategy that established an overarching goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who we estimate will spend $250 billion, annually by the end of 2021.

The strategy also encourages Americans to travel within the United States and its territories to see all that our country has to offer.

We know a strategy is just a strategy unless there are people and mechanisms in place to ensure its success. OTTI is working closely with our sister federal agencies to develop the implement plan and to flesh out the numerous tactics and activities that will be required to achieve success. Each of you has the opportunity to support the implementation of this strategy as well.

Collectively, you can offer support to the state, regional, and federal entities that support tourism and the arts. You can provide input to the implementation work plans of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy by working through your national organizations. You can commit to looking at your national organizations’ marketing plans and objectives to see how you might integrate that work with the goals and objectives of the strategy, and carry that work down to your individual organizations’ level as well---a rising tide lifts all boats, after all!

Individually, you can work closely with your DMOs (and others) to ensure that you are part of their promotion and marketing efforts, featured on their websites and in their printed materials, a willing partner and host to familiarization tours they may have in place to showcase your destinations to international tour operators and journalists, or to locally-based receptive or tour operators who can build travel itineraries for potential visitors to follow. You can be a participant on sales missions they may implement in key mature or emerging markets or simply a provider of calendar listings or evergreen story materials that can be integrated into a much larger list of offerings provided by the whole of your destination to consumers and industry professionals alike.

We believe the future is bright for travel and tourism in this country, and we are excited about the opportunity to meet the goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021.

Thank you very much for you allowing me the opportunity to talk about the importance of the potential partnership between tourism and the arts---a smART pART of any travel and tourism strategy!

Julie P. Heizer is the Deputy Director of Industry Relations for the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries at the U.S. Department of Commerce.



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