LEXINGTON, Ky. — At a hearing of the U. S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held on Jan. 17 to consider his nomination to be confirmed as Secretary of Interior, U. S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., said that the large investment in infrastructure proposed by the incoming Trump administration should include our national parks and “prioritize the estimated $12.5 billion in backlog of maintenance and repair.” The International Inbound Travel Association applauds this commitment. 

“This will provide an opportunity to restore America’s ‘crown jewels’ and leading attractions for international visitors to a condition in which the national parks can play an increasingly vital role in the growth of inbound travel,” said Lisa Simon, executive director, International Inbound Travel Association.

“Our members have been focused on the condition of the national parks for quite some time,” Simon said2017 IITA Summit logo (2). “Almost all trips to the United States include some element of the national parks, whichever kind of units they may be — the many sites under National Park Service jurisdiction, including the various memorials, the National Mall, or the White House in Washington; the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor; scenic natural attractions like Yellowstone, Zion, the Everglades, and Crater Lake; or historic sites, such as the Edison Laboratories, Gettysburg, and Mount Rushmore — our incoming visitors love the variety and beauty of these treasures. We know from our customers that the national parks are a foundation for the growing impact of tourism to the United States.

“The International Inbound Travel Association looks forward to working closely with secretary-designate Zinke on seeing that these infrastructure improvements are fully funded, while we continue to support and expand the range of experiences our guests to America can enjoy by including more sites within the National Park Service in the itineraries we offer.”

International inbound tourism is one of the key elements of the international trade equation in which the United States has a favorable and positive number of net income in the national tourism account. Since 2010, the tourism account surplus has been over $30 billion annually.

The International Inbound Travel Association will be discussing this subject and other national parks issues at the 2017 Summit in Biloxi, Mississippi, Feb. 5-8.