[Ed. note: Press release follows. -J]
(Alexandria, VA) – J. Clark Robinson, president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), applauded Congress today for appropriating $50 million to promote the United States as a destination for international travelers. Robinson also emphasized the adverse effect a reduction in visitors from overseas has had on the U.S. travel and tourism industry, including destination amusement parks.
Robinson testified on behalf of the amusement industry at a hearing on the “State of Travel and Tourism” held by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
“We believe this $50 million appropriation should be used for a comprehensive international destination marketing campaign to bring overseas travelers back to the United States,” Robinson said. “The funds should not be broken up into several small projects, but rather applied to a unified campaign whose results are measurable.”
Robinson provided the committee with detailed information about how the decline in visitors to the United States from overseas has impacted the travel and tourism industry in general and amusement parks in particular.
“The U.S. share of international travel has declined by 30% over the last ten years, while worldwide outbound tourism has increased by 50%,” Robinson said. “The American travel and tourism industry has lost 387,000 jobs from September 2001 through December 2002.”
Robinson shared with the committee how important overseas visitors are to the amusement park industry. International guests often rank as the most valuable customers for such major destination theme parks as those owned by The Walt Disney Company, Vivendi Universal, and Anheuser-Busch. Studies show that these guests spend more, stay longer, and return often.
“The average overseas visitor to Orlando stays ten nights, compared to five for domestic visitors,” Robinson said. “In Los Angeles the average international visitor stays between six and seven nights versus the average domestic visitor’s stay of less than four nights.”
Robinson said that IAAPA supports the formation of a Presidential Advisory Council to further promote tourism. He also stated that the association encourages the adoption of visa and immigration policies which provide secure U.S. borders while still affording accessible entry to legitimate travelers.
IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently-situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents over 5,000 amusement and theme parks, attractions, and suppliers from over 85 countries. IAAPA strives to help members improve their efficiency, marketing, safety, and profitability while maintaining the highest possible professional standards in the industry.