During a press conference to be held September 26, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) will introduce legislation establishing a new grant program aimed at improving the United States' image abroad, to encourage international travelers to visit the U.S. The two will be joined by several industry leaders who support the bill, including Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association; Bill Hardman, president and CEO of Southeast Tourism Society; Charles Merin, president of Travel Business Roundtable; Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; and Jim Santini, legislative counsel of the National Tour Association.
The "Improving Public Diplomacy through International Travel Act" would create a matching grant program between the tourism industry and the U.S. government, which would offer grants ranging from $150,000 to $1 million, totaling $50 million over five years. The grants would be used for programs targeting the top five international markets for travel to the U. S. with the goal of improving U.S. diplomacy through increased travel. The program requires no new funding, instead using money from the State Department's Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.