That was the clear message at last month’s Brand USA event in central London, which saw leaders from almost every state in the US sharing destination news and hopes for a busy 2022 – once the US borders reopen to UK visitors on November 8.
Representatives from California and New York spoke of the importance of British inbound travel: over 30 per cent of all international travel to the US is to New York City, where international visitors account for 50 per cent of overall spending and 50 per cent of Broadway sales.
In Los Angeles, one in four of the 31 million overnight visitors in 2019 were international, and 64 per cent of all visitor spending in San Francisco comes from the international market.
Here in the UK, the feeling is mutual: new research from Virgin Atlantic shows that two in five Brits have missed US travel, with 39 per cent of those surveyed planning an upcoming trip to New York City.
Brand USA CMO Tom Garzilli spoke exclusively to ABTA Magazine about the reopening of transatlantic travel this month, describing himself as “giddy” at the prospect of resuming tourism.
“Travel trade is so important to us, particularly in the UK. We’re not just about our gateway cities and key markets, but the different and diverse experiences you can have. We’re always educating travel agents because we know how much consumers rely on them for long-haul travel.
“I have a real appreciation for travel agents because I know how influential they can be when someone walks in and says: ‘Where should I go?’ Now, there’s a new dynamic for transatlantic travel agents surrounding the new need for tests and paperwork.
“The US is such a unique destination because of its combination of the traditional things people want to do – big cities, or big destinations – along with new and different experiences. There’s such a pent-up desire to travel to the US and it’s going to offer a combination of all those things.
“Over time, Covid restrictions will become more homogenous across the US, and the good thing is that the destinations are getting very good at educating their staff and telling visitors what they need when they come there. We’ll be ready and people will have a very comfortable experience.”
Tom Garzilli, CMO, Brand USA