Travel trade non-profit the U.S. Travel Association has hired lobbying firm Klein/Johnson Group for Capitol Hill representation on issues related to government appropriations and tourism, as experts across the travel industry fight to reverse a downward trend in international visits that has gripped the U.S. for more than a year.
USTA has retained K/J on issues related to “encouraging safe travel to and within the United States for both business and tourism,” according to lobbying registration documents filed in March.
The travel and tourism trade group have also hired K/J for help with appropriations bills as they relate to travel and Brand USA, the large-scale, public-private campaign to promote travel and tourism to the United States.
Inbound international travel to the U.S. has experienced a precipitous drop since President Trump’s inauguration, a trend that many travel industry pros have begun referring to as the “Trump Slump,” pointing to travelers’ reaction to America’s current political climate as well as policies such as travel bans from Muslim-majority countries as potential reasons for the decline.
According to recent figures by the National Travel and Tourism Office, the U.S. counted 41 million total foreign visits during the first seven months of 2017, a four percent decline from the same period a year before. Travel spending dipped around three percent during the same period.
An analysis by the USTA concludes this slump translates to a spending loss of about $4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs.
In 2016, America’s travel industry generated $2.3 trillion for the U.S. economy (approx. 12 percent of the U.S. GDP) and supported 15.3 million jobs in the U.S.
Klein/Johnson Group was launched last year by two Podesta Group alums, Izzy Klein and Matt Johnson. Klein was previously communications director for Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and was also formerly press secretary and legislative assistant to Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). Johnson worked as chief counsel to Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX).
Other K/J clients include Oracle, First Data and Civitas Capital Group.
Klein and Johnson manage the USTA account.