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U.S. Senate Passes Travel Promotion Act;  The Act Creates a Public-private
Campaign to Promote the United States as a Destination at
No Cost to U.S. Taxpayers



WASHINGTON, DC -- September 9, 2009 - The U.S. 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 U.S. security policies. 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 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."

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.
 

TRAVEL PROMOTION ACT 
S. 1023/H.R. 2935

Well-Executed Travel Promotion Campaign Would Yield 20:1 Return on Investment

  • $4 Billion in New Visitor Spending Annually
  • $321 Million in New Federal Tax Revenue Annually
  • 1.6 Million New International Visitors Annually
  • Reduce Federal Budget Deficit by $425 Million Over Ten Years
International Travel to United States is Powerful Economic, Diplomatic Stimulus
  • The average overseas visitor to the United States spends $4,500 per visit. 
  • Oxford Economics estimates that a well executed promotion program, as outlined in the Travel Promotion Act, would attract 1.6 million new international visitors annually, create $4 billion in new spending and drive $321 million in new federal tax revenue.
  • International visitors are America¡¦s largest service export, benefit all regions of the country and provide new dollars to the American economy without straining precious federal, state and local resources.
  • Ninety percent of employers in the travel industry are small businesses, and one-in-eight Americans are employed by the travel industry.
  • Those who have visited the United States are 74 percent more likely to have a favorable opinion of the country than those who have not visited. As America seeks to build stronger allies, visitors present an extraordinary opportunity to conduct ¡§people-to-people¡¨ diplomacy.
United States Losing the Competition for International Travelers
  • The United States welcomed 633,000 fewer overseas visitors in 2008 than in 2000 ¡V remaining below pre-9/11 levels of overseas visitors for the seventh consecutive year ¡V despite a weak dollar that made the U.S. a travel bargain and 48 million more people around the world traveling long haul.
  • Declines in visitation since 9/11 have cost the U.S. an estimated $182 billion in lost visitor spending and $27 billion in lost tax receipts.
  • 245,000 jobs were NOT created in 2008 due to the shortfall in international visitation.
  • International travel to the U.S. declined by 10 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
The Reason: U.S. Does Not Communicate, Compete for Travelers
  • The decline in overseas travel to the United States post-9/11 is directly linked to the mistaken, but widespread perception that visitors are not as welcome as they may have been previously and that many security policies are intrusive and unnecessary.
  • According to a 2006 survey by the Discover America Partnership, potential travelers are more concerned about treatment by U.S. immigration officials than crime or terrorism.
  • The United States has no means of direct communication with travelers, leaving all messages, new security policies and improvements to the travel process to be filtered by the foreign media.
  • America's competitors are spending billions of dollars in promotion programs to attract visitors. The United States spends zero.
Solution: Pass the Travel Promotion Act
  • The Travel Promotion Act (S. 1023 / H.R. 2935) would establish a public-private campaign jointly managed by government and the private sector at no cost to U.S. taxpayers.
  • The Travel Promotion Act (S. 1023 / H.R. 2935) is sponsored by Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Ensign (R-NV) and Congressmen Delahunt (D-MA-10th) and Blunt (R-MO-7th) in the 111th Congress.
  • In 2008, the bill passed the House of Representatives with strong, bipartisan support from 243 co-sponsors and also garnered the support of 52 U.S. senators ¡V including President Obama, Vice President Biden, White House Chief of Staff Emanuel, Secretaries Clinton, Salazar, Solis and LaHood when they were Members of Congress

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. 

For more information about the Travel Promotion Act, please visit www.poweroftravel.org.

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $770 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel's mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. For more information, visit www.ustravel.org.

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Contact:

Kristy Chandler
Director of Communications
U.S. Travel Association
1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 450
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 408-2172
kchandler@ustravel.org 

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Also See: Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Jump-Start U.S. Economy, Attract Millions More International Visitors Travel Promotion Act Estimated to Create $4 Billion in Economic Stimulus; No Money Required from American Taxpayers / May 2009
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