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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 23, 1994


President Bill Clinton yesterday reiterated his commitment to increase the United States' share of the global tourism market by holding a White House Conference on Travel and Tourism in November 1995.

"The travel and tourism industry is one of the unsung heroes of our economy. Your businesses employ more than six million Americans and equally important, international tourism is one sector of our economy that consistently generates a trade surplus," President Clinton said during a meeting with industry leaders at the White House. "The White House Conference on Travel and Tourism will provide you and your colleagues an opportunity to meet with leaders in the Executive branch and in Congress, and, I hope, to develop a shared vision -- both of the industry's future and of role of the industry in our Nation's future."

Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and Commerce Under Secretary for Travel and Tourism Greg Farmer outlined the goals of the White House Conference and released details for events leading up to this first- ever meeting. The goal of the Conference is to formulate a comprehensive strategy to increase the nation's share of the international tourism market and subsequently spur job creation, export growth and increased return on investment.

"The potential for growth is greater than it's ever been before, and yet so is the competition for this lucrative market," said Commerce Secretary Brown. "Our reaction to these changes in the global marketplace will dictate the success of this nation's economy well into the 21st century. Our children's future depends on our response."

Commerce Under Secretary Farmer added that part of that strategy will involve nine key issues that impact the travel and tourism industry:

These issues currently are being addressed at the federal level by the Tourism Policy Council (TPC), an inter-agency group chaired by Secretary Brown and charged with developing a comprehensive federal tourism strategy as part of the "Reinventing Government" process. The federal strategy the TPC will present to Vice President Al Gore this summer, will serve as the basis for the Travel and Tourism Issue papers each state conference will address in advance of the White House Conference.

A series of state and industry-oriented conferences will be held prior to the White House Conference to give interested groups the opportunity to review the issue papers, identify and discuss key issues of concern, and select delegates for the National Conference. Many State Travel Offices are expected to convene state conferences in conjunction with their existing individual Governor's Conference on Tourism, while others will opt to convene a separate event. Alabama and Florida will convene the first state meetings in August during their Governor's Conferences on Tourism to be held Aug. 14-17 and Aug. 20-23 respectively.

More than 1,500 delegates representing a broad level of industry participation will meet during the White House Conference in November 1995 to develop a tourism strategy propelling the nation's economy into the next century. Public Sector delegates will include members of the U.S. Senate and Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucuses, all Governors, all State Travel Directors, and selected mayors. "Industry" delegates will include selected Convention and Visitors Bureau Directors and 100 industry executives, who will be appointed by the White House.

Each member of the U.S. Senate and Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucuses and all Governors will have the authority to appoint one delegate to the National Conference. The U.S. Department of Commerce and other federal agencies will also appoint a certain number of delegates, as will the White House.

In addition, approximately 50 international representatives will be identified in selected international markets to serve as delegates. These representatives will be selected by VISIT USA Committees.

According to Under Secretary Farmer, the tourism industry is "excited about the event and eager to participate."

"The fragmentation that once prevented this industry from reaching its full potential is a distant memory," Farmer said. "With the support we're already receiving at this early stage, I am confident this Conference will be an overwhelming success."

The White House Conference day-to-day operations will be housed at AAA Headquarters on 15th Street in Washington, D.C. beginning July 5. In addition to office space, AAA also is providing computers and telephones. American Express is providing an "executive on loan" --Danny Kahn -- for the duration of the conference preparation and Travel South has donated the services of staff member Liz Doyle.