Brand USA is dedicated to growing the United States’ share of the global travel market. Establishing the country as a compelling destination for international visitors has inevitably led to a connection with World Routes.
In fact, Alfredo Gonzalez, senior vice president, global market development, Brand USA, was the first representative from the tourism industry to attend World Routes. “Given my years in tourism, on-going advocacy for the industry and interest in aviation, my colleague at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Ed Nelson, recommended that I attend World Routes 2002 in Athens,” he says.
“The experience heightened my passion for aviation and sparked my interest in identifying strategies to bring the tourism and aviation industries together,” he adds.
The link between the two industries is strong. For the United States, with the exception of travellers from Mexico and Canada who are able to travel directly by car, international visitors rely solely on air travel to visit the country.
Gonzalez notes that since he has been attending World Routes, he has seen many tourism boards join their regional airports at the event, extending their marketing reach and deepening the relationship with key partners. Through these partnerships, destinations large and small are able to connect with the airlines and ultimately create new route maps.
It’s an enticing prospect, not least because of the pay-off. “Tourism is the leading service export in the United States and one sector of the economy that we cannot outsource,” says Gonzalez. “Seventy million international travellers came into the United States in 2013 and those travellers spent more than US$180 billion in our hotels, restaurants, attractions and shopping centers.
“Brand USA has been integral in increasing the share of the international travellers and as a result of our marketing efforts we were responsible for a 1.1 million incremental increase in visitors in 2013,” he adds. “Those 1.1 million visitors were responsible for US$3.4 billion in domestic spending and for supporting 53,181 jobs.”
Gonzalez aims to carry on attending World Routes to further the work Brand USA is doing to attract international visitors. “World Routes is the only event where destinations and airports can work together to focus on aviation and discuss everything from
new route development to enhancements in existing routes,” he notes. “Destinations who may have wrestled with limited air service now have a platform to work in cooperation with the airports and airlines to increase weekly flights.”
In addition to promoting the United States as a premier travel destination through consumer and travel trade marketing, advertising, events and promotions, Brand USA works with the Federal government to communicate US entry and security processes that will help make the journey to and into the United States easier and more welcoming.