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Executive Order Puts Tourism at Top of Agenda

January 19, 2012

LAS VEGAS - President Barack Obama expressed his support of the tourism industry today by signing an Executive Order that charges several agencies with creating new initiatives to promote tourism to and within the U.S., including improving visa processing, expanding the Visa Waiver Program, and developing a task force to develop a national travel and tourism strategy.

LVCVA President/CEO Rossi Ralenkotter, who was in attendance for the announcement, commended the president's actions.

"Tourism is the No. 1 economic driver in Southern Nevada and one of the leading forces in our national economy, so to have a national effort to increase tourism supported by the White House is tremendous," Ralenkotter said.

President Obama's order is aimed at returning the U.S. to the leading international destination. In the past decade, the U.S. has lost almost a third of its market share in global travel. Tourism is a leading export for the country and supports 14 million jobs.

"Attracting more international visitors will stimulate the economy and create more jobs in the United States," Ralenkotter said. "It is crucial that we support initiatives that make travel and tourism a priority."

In Southern Nevada, the tourism industry supports 265,000 jobs and generates a total economic impact of $37 billion. The LVCVA has a goal of increasing international visitation from 18 percent to 30 percent over the next decade.

Ralenkotter is the immediate past chairman of the Department of Commerce's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) and has been reappointed as a member of TTAB. He also is the incoming chairman of the U.S. Travel Association board of directors.