Renewing a Partnership to Promote Tourism and Create Jobs in the West

Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

by Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

Over the years, the Department of the Interior has worked closely with the Western States Tourism Policy Council, a consortium of 13 state tourism offices, to promote tourism throughout the West as a way of spurring economic growth and supporting jobs in local communities.

Today, I am renewing this partnership by signing the continuation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the department and the council to continue to expand our joint promotional efforts and make it more attractive for visitors, including international visitors, to visit and vacation in the West.

The Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Commerce, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also are signatories of the memorandum.

There could be no better time to renew this partnership. In 2012, President Obama's launched a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, setting an ambitious goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. Two years later, we are on track to meet that goal. The number of international visitors to the U.S. has grown from 55 million in 2009 to 70 million in 2013. The growth in international visitation has created about 175,000 new jobs in the past five years.

Much of this tourism occurs on public lands throughout the West – national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, sites such as Hoover Dam, and other lands that attract millions of people each year. With its beautiful landscapes, magnificent parks and historic places, the West especially benefits from increased tourism. In 2012, travelers to Western states spent $276.5 billion, generating 2.4 million jobs.

I'm pleased to stand with the federal family in working with the states' tourism councils to leverage our respective resources and expertise to draw even more visitors from all corners of the world to experience the beauty and history and adventure of the West.

Sally Jewell is the U.S. Secretary of the Interior