In a 79 – 19 vote, the United States Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act (S. 1023), one more step to further efforts to promote the United States as a premier travel destination.
The act will create new jobs, draw millions of visitors into the country, and help to strengthen the economy, and as a result, help to lower the federal budget. More specifically, the act will create some 40,000 new jobs, increase consumer spending by $4 billion, and reduce the federal budget by $425 million. The monetary figures come from the Congressional Budget Office and Oxford Economics.
“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.”
Sponsored by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV), and co-sponsored by fifty-one Senators, the Travel Promotion Act is modeled after state-level programs that have proven to be successful. It is funded through a matching program that features up to $100 million in private sector contributions. In addition, a ten dollar fee assessed on any foreign travellers that chooses not to pay the $131 fee for a vista to enter into the United States will also be contributed to the efforts that the act enables. The fees are designated to be collected every two years in unison with the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. The best part of the act is that no financing will be provided by United States taxpayers. This is certainly a plus considering the hard economic times the country has been going through over the last year and a half.
During the last session of the House of Representatives, legislation that was nearly identical failed to receive a Senate vote before it adjourned.