April 24, 2012
Contact: Ken or Kate Gooderham, ASBPA executive directors -- (239) 489-2616
Harry Simmons, ASBPA president -- (910) 200-7867
Discover America? Discover beaches!
Foreign tourists mean domestic business… and the coast could be our country’s calling card
Starting this May, the U.S. travel industry is working to put a bigger, brighter welcome mat out for travelers worldwide, letting them know that America is open for business. It’s an overdue endeavor, particularly for travel destinations hard-hit by our lingering economic woes.
Since many of those destinations are along our coasts, beach businesses should benefit if a new push brings new visitors to our shores. If travel’s economic equation adds up -- 35 foreign tourists = one new American job – a push for more foreign visitors could have a big payoff at home.
Overseas travel has had a lot of untapped potential of late, thanks mainly the absence of any focused national marketing campaign. Individual states, regions and communities have targeted and pursued overseas markets, but there was no national effort to sell America as one big travel destination.
- The U.S. share of the international travel market has fallen 35 percent in the past decade, to the point where our country accounts for just 11.2 percent of total travel business.
- We fell seriously behind in marketing our country to others and were eclipsed in spending by countries big (Mexico, France, Britain) and small (South Korea, Turkey, Australia). When global travel is projected to boom in the years to come, not getting the word out hurts U.S. business.
- Worst of all, through word and deed (and general impression) we left many foreigners with the sense that you’re not welcomed in America. Increased security for entry, decreased efficiency in processing, and a perception that the U.S. wasn’t interested in attracting new visitors from other lands is a recipe for disaster in the travel business.
With the passage of the Travel Promotion Bill in 2009, Brand USA was created – using private funds and a traveler surcharge – to market this country to the world as a travel destination offering a variety of experiences. We hope promoting the coasts of the country will be high on that list.
Why? Aside from the obvious – it’s good for business – it’s a reminder of the breadth and beauty of our varied coastlines. To replicate the coastal experiences available to a visitor to our shores, someone would need to travel to many countries in many locales (crossing many borders and jurisdictions). Instead, you can come to America and see it all – from the rocky northern coasts to the sandy southern shores, from the Delta wetlands to the Great Lakes dunes, from the narrow barrier islands jutting into the Atlantic to the cliff-backed pocket beaches along the Pacific.
Beaches serve as one of the iconic backdrops for “the American dream.” The definition of the dream various from person to person; however, beaches have been (and will continue to be) a big part of the natural beauty and unique lifestyle that can draw visitors from around the globe to our shores (literally). This new marketing push will also complement the tourism efforts already under way by coastal communities, giving both campaigns a little more bang for their beach buck.
Coastal professionals and communities around the country work hard to make their beaches world class and a better place to live, work and play. Inviting a few more friends from around the globe over to enjoy our coastal assets just makes sense. Here’s hoping we’ll all see more visitors on our shorelines soon.
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ABOUT ASBPA: Founded in 1926, the ASBPA promotes the integration of science, policies and actions that maintain, protect and enhance the coasts of America. For more information on ASBPA, go to www.asbpa.org, facebook or www.twitter.com/asbpa.