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NTA's New Government Relations Priorities

February 13, 2008 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent

The National Tour Association's top industry advocacy issues for 2008 include reaching out to the presidential candidates and creating a White House position of director of travel/tourism, the association said. NTA will work to generate more cooperation in the industry, joining with its industry partners, including ASTA, to address the issues affecting the industry.

The association's top priority is working to emphasize the importance of travel and tourism to the presidential candidates, as part of its larger goal to establish an executive-branch office of travel and tourism.

NTA has contacted the 2008 presidential candidates to make them aware of travel-related issues that concern Americans and to share with the candidates what they can do to address them. Among the solutions recommended to improve air service are more regular access to controlled air space, increased technology to improve air traffic control and additional federal funding for more runways at high-demand airports.

Other NTA priorities include:

Travel laws, regulations and passenger protection. Over the years, NTA has successfully battled a myriad sellers of travel laws. NTA will continue to keep a close watch on regulations impacting the industry and all travelers.

Taxes and fees. NTA strongly opposes increased travel and tourism taxes, especially if the revenue is targeted to go to the general fund or toward deficit reduction. The only positive travel industry taxes are those that are "invested" in tourism promotion, infrastructure development and job creation.

U.S. entry and exit issues. NTA will continue to help the federal government find ways to reduce visa delays, improve access at ports of entry and address other issues creating negative perceptions about visiting the United States, while maintaining the highest possible levels of security.

National parks access, fees and "voluntourism." Last year, NTA secured a re-commitment from the National Park Service to give tour operators ample notice of any fee increases. NTA will work with NPS this year on group price structures. NTA also will work with the organization to ensure equal access, enhance their environmental programs and to initiate a voluntourism program with 40 national park sites.

Travel Promotion Act of 2007. NTA is working with the Travel Industry Association on the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 (H.R. 3232/S. 1661), which would create a national Corporation for Travel Promotion. This nonprofit organization would provide funding necessary for the United States to promote itself as a destination to international markets.

"NTA has never been more strongly positioned to make change happen than this year," said NTA chairman and CEO Bob Hoelscher. "As the first industry association to have full-time representation in Washington, D.C., NTA will continue to lead the industry to make sure we have a voice on the Hill. This year, we will work to ensure the 2008 candidates recognize Americans' fundamental freedom to travel and address safety and security procedures to ensure that this right continues." (GD)

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