The U.S. Travel Association announced on February 23 that Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, was elected as the organization’s national chair for one year, with the possibility of serving an additional year. Nassetta succeeds Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line and former president of Maritz Travel Company, whose term as national chair ended in February after two years.
Nassetta will lead the association's executive board and board of delegates, and work closely with USTA President and CEO Geoff Freeman and the leadership team to increase travel to and within the United States, and to maintain leisure and business travel as essential contributors to the nation's economy. USTA represents the collective interests of over 1,000 industry organizations, including a variety of travel companies as well as destinations across the United States.
Given Nassetta’s expertise in the hotel business, he will likely be an outspoken advocate on issues such as raising the number of H1-B and H2-B work visas allowed by the federal government, which would allow more non-U.S. residents to work at U.S. hotels and restaurants at a time when they are desperately needed. Another issue on USTA’s radar that affects meeting and convention groups: Long wait times for international-visitor visas that reduce attendance at many business events held in the U.S.
Nassetta has shown an interest in the issues of the meetings and conventions sector in recent months, including a stage appearance at the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders conference in January.