Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched Global Economic Statecraft Day June 14 with the aim of ensuring that the United States works with foreign partners to put economics at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy and promote travel and tourism.
“We’re sending the message to people in every region that the United States is open for business and tourism,” Clinton said in a recorded message. “We have to position ourselves to lead in a world where security and prosperity are shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors as well as battlefields or diplomatic negotiations.”
The goal is to create new jobs and expand trade and investment in the United States and abroad, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said in a June 13 briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
Clinton said global leadership rests on a foundation of economic prosperity and cooperation, and promoting international travel and tourism is a key pillar of the Economic Statecraft agenda.
Nides told journalists that the State Department and all its embassies and posts worldwide will be working to promote an economic prosperity agenda. The effort is tied, in part, to President Obama’s 2009 National Export Initiative — which is designed to double U.S. exports in five years, but also to encourage other nations to invest in the United States. Working with the State Department are the U.S. Commerce Department and the Interior Department, which also have trade and tourism initiatives, he said.
The Interior Department manages 397 national parks throughout the country, 556 national wildlife refuges and 886 units of the National Landscape Conservation System, which are all available year-round for recreation, said Rhea Suh, an assistant secretary at the Interior Department.
“The federal family has been working hard again to try to provide visitors with seamless experiences, and the Department of Interior in particular is trying to create new itineraries for visitors that are interested in coming to places in America, to think about off-the-beaten-path possibilities for their trips,” Suh said.
To enhance travel for international tourists and make it easier to enter the United States, Nides said, the administration has as a goal to have more countries included in the Visa Waiver Program.
Kenneth Hyatt, a deputy assistant secretary at the Commerce Department, told journalists the U.S. national strategy seeks to attract 100 million visitors to the United States annually by the end of 2021, who would likely spend about $250 billion in that year. That compares with just more than 62 million international visitors in 2011 and $153 billion in spending.
Hyatt said the U.S. strategy has five components. The first is promoting the United States, while the second involves enabling and facilitating travel — which includes such factors as enhancing the visa process and improving the global entry experience as people come to the United States.
A third pillar of the strategy is trying to take a customer-service orientation to how the United States engages international travelers, he said. “Much as the private sector does, viewing the customer experience is critical.”
The fourth aspect of the strategy is to coordinate U.S. government agencies better and to take a whole-of-government approach to travel and tourism, Hyatt said. And the final aspect of the expanded strategy is developing better ways to research and measure the impact of these efforts.
“So, we’re at the stage now where we have the strategy and it’s now onto how we make certain this gets implemented,” Hyatt said.