On Sept 9, 2009 at 04:47 pm, the U.S. Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act (S. 1023) with a 79-19 vote. The bill establishes a non-profit corporation to promote U.S. Tourism and help explain U.S. security and entry policies.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives (H.R. 2935), where it is expected to pass without any hitches and then will be sent to the President and enacted into law.
Implementation of the Travel Promotion Act is expected to create an estimated 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.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said that ”The United States Senate today took a giant step toward regaining America’s position as the premier travel destination and strengthening our struggling economy. Nearly every company, city, state and developed nation understands the power of promotion.”
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) who was the bill’s main sponsor, made an impassioned plea to his colleagues in the Senate, urging them to vote in favor.
“Even as global travel as a whole increased, the number of overseas tourists travelling to the United States has decreased since 2001. This bill will create a coordinated effort to encourage tourists to come to the United States, reversing that trend,” said Sen. Dorgan. ”And in addition to creating jobs, people from around the world who come to our country will leave with a positive view of America.”
The Travel Promotion Act (background) is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers from Visa Waiver Countries 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 (ESTA). No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.