U.S. House Passes Travel Promotion ActOctober 8, 2009 By: George Dooley
Creating new jobs and strengthening local economies may be byproducts of the U.S. House of Representatives passage of H.R. 1035, the "Travel Promotion Act." The bill was approved yesterday with strong bipartisan support, by a vote of 358 to 66.
The legislation creates a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and better explain U.S. security policies. The Senate passed identical legislation earlier in September, but procedural dynamics require an additional Senate vote expected in the coming days, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
"The need for travel promotion has never been greater," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "As the recent vote of the International Olympic Committee demonstrated, the United States must invest in better explaining its security policies and attracting foreign travelers. The Travel Promotion Act is a 'win-win' for our economic and diplomatic efforts."
Once it is enacted into law, the program is estimated to create 40,000 U.S. jobs, drive $4 billion in new consumer spending, according to Oxford Economics, and reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million in the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,500 per person, per trip in the United States.
The "Travel Promotion Act," co-sponsored by Representatives William Delahunt (D-MA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), is modeled after successful state-level programs and is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. The fee is collected once every two years in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization. U.S. taxpayers provide no money.