After a multi-year battle, the Senate yesterday took a major step toward strengthening the American economy and welcoming millions of new visitors to the United States. By a vote of 80 to 19, the Senate invoked cloture on the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) and set the stage for a vote on final passage of the much-needed legislation on today, September 9.
"Senators from both sides of the aisle today embraced a common sense, taxpayer-free way of stimulating the American economy, creating jobs and strengthening local communities from coast to coast," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We encourage prompt passage of this legislation and rapid consideration in the House of Representatives."
The Travel Promotion Act was introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV) and is co-sponsored by 51 Senators. The TPA will create a public-private partnership to promote the U.S. as a premier international travel destination and communicate U.S. security and entry policies. In addition to the lead sponsors, today's vote was made possible due to the leadership of Senators Reid (D-NV), Martinez (R-FL), Rockefeller (D-WV), Hutchison (R-TX) and Klobuchar (D-MN), U.S. Travel said.
“Ever-changing security policies and negative foreign press coverage have deterred foreign travelers from visiting the United States since 9/11," USTA said. "The United States had 634,000 fewer overseas visitors in 2008 than in 2000 despite 56 million more global overseas travelers worldwide. Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,500 per person, per trip in the United States."
The TPA specifies that travel promotion will be paid for by private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the country. Nearly every developed nation in the world operates a multi-million dollar campaign to attract foreign visitors. Many of these campaigns are funded by entry and exit fees that American travelers pay when traveling to foreign countries, U.S. Travel said.
Oxford Economics estimates that a well-executed promotion program would attract 1.6 million new international visitors and would generate $4 billion in new economic stimulus and $321 million in new federal tax revenue each year. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that this program would create nearly 40,000 new American jobs in the first year. The Congressional Budget Office reports estimates that the Travel Promotion Act will reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million over ten years. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar measure in 2008 and is currently considering a companion bill, H.R. 2935, sponsored by Representatives Delahunt and Blunt.