The recreational aspect of local leagues is important for kids of all talent and interest levels to experience. However, the low levels of local talent and interest can cause kids to look for alternatives. I have also seen such severe cases of "daddyball" that more talented kids needed to find another venue to get playing time because the "coaches" were so focused on making sure "junior" played shortstop no matter what.
Travel ball can be a system where merit and development of players is a higher priority, rather than having 20 minutes of batting practice lost because the coach wants Johnny to make contact sometime before the year is over. Of course it can be more of the same in travel, but at least the parents are free to look for a different team and not be tied to a geographical area.
Our crew had very good experience with a locally based travel team that played relatively inexpensive tournaments and a reasonable number each year. It was more time intensive and more expensive than the local little league but the coaching and competition were so much better it was definitely worth it to us.
I wouldn't pay the cost of elite travel though and unless your player is physically big early, I can't see how the exposure is worth the fees.
Pitchers get a chance to face more batters that are able to make contact and not just the local kids who may be unable to deal with a more advanced pitcher.