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
International Travel to United States is Powerful Economic, Diplomatic
$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
United States Losing the Competition for International Travelers
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.
The Reason: U.S. Does Not Communicate, Compete for 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
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
International travel to the U.S. declined by 10 percent in the first quarter
Solution: Pass the Travel Promotion Act
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.
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.