The Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA), a global organization of researchers committed to improving the travel industry by supporting quality tourism research, commends the efforts by the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) to improve the collection and reporting of data they collect on international visitors to the U.S. We also support the recent decision by the National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) to suspend data dissemination. Given the importance of international visitation to the U.S. economy, contributing $32 billion in wages to U.S. workers, and responsible for $245 billion in spending in cities and towns across the country, getting the numbers right is more important than ever.
The CBP data from the I94 form, however, is just one component of information used to inform the industry of the behavior of international visitors; the other is the Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT) conducted by the National Travel and Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce.
SIAT is a survey research tool for collecting data directly from visitors regarding their spending in the U.S., their activities while visiting here, who they traveled with, and other important aspects of their visit for which there is no other source of publicly available information.
The data collected from over tens of thousands of international visitors each year forms the basis of the balance of trade calculations by Bureau of Economic Analysis and is used for quantifying travel imports and exports for the U.S. The data establishes what these travelers spend and enables the industry to determine how many jobs and businesses that spending supports.
TTRA supports the National Travel and Tourism Office’s (NTTO) role in collecting and disseminating research that enables U.S. destinations to better compete with other countries vying for international travelers. As the world’s fastest growing industry and with other countries investing heavily in infrastructure and analytics to capture market share, the U.S. government’s role in ensuring access to data on international visitors is critical.
In addition, TTRA looks forward to learning more about CBP’s initiatives with the I94 form and welcomes an opportunity to offer insight and perspective from our members – U.S. destinations that are attracting international visitors and the $245 billion dollars they are spending across the nation.
Marion Joppe, TTRA President
Scott Russell, TTRA First Vice President
Esra Calvert, TTRA Advocacy Committee
Laura Mandala, TTRA Advocacy Committee