The U.S. travel and tourism industry says it has been waging an effective campaign to attract more visitors to the United States.
The government-private industry organization called Brand USA says new advertising and other marketing efforts in eight foreign nations boosted arrivals by more than one million last year, contributing billions of dollars and 53,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.
The partnership between the industry and Washington grew out of worries that U.S. destinations were losing ground to rival nations.
It is also aimed at attracting customers from emerging nations where growing wealth makes international travel more widely available.
The CEO of Brand USA, Chris Thompson, says international visitors offer a stronger economic lift than domestic travelers.
"The international component of visitation is the one that brings people here for longer stays, it brings them here for greater spending — on the average $4,500 from any international visitor — that comes in."
Officials hope to raise international tourism traffic by about one third over a seven-year period, and push the annual total to about 100 million visitors to the United States.
To do that industry members will continue advertising and are working to streamline cumbersome U.S. visa procedures that frustrate some potential visitors.
Thompson says a stronger tourism industry helps U.S. diplomacy as well as the economy because most visitors come away with a favorable impression of the United States.