The Senate today passed S. 1023, the Travel Promotion Act, with strong bipartisan support, 79 to 19. The legislation creates a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and better explain security policies.
“The United States Senate today took a giant step toward regaining America's position as the premier travel destination and strengthening our struggling economy," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "Nearly every company, city, state and developed nation understands the power of promotion. By getting in the global game, America will create tens of thousands of new jobs and strengthen its image in the world as visitors leave with an improved perception of our country and her people."
Once passed by the House of Representatives and 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 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, introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV) and co-sponsored by 51 Senators, 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. No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.
Nearly identical legislation passed the House of Representatives in the last session, but did not receive a Senate vote before adjournment. A new House companion bill, H.R. 2935, is co-sponsored by 68 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.