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Friday, September 11, 2009


Legislation Will Create Jobs, Enhance US Image Abroad

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate passed legislation this week championed by U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt to promote global travel to the United States.

Since introducing the bipartisan bill two years ago with Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Delahunt has pressed for its enactment as both economic stimulus and public diplomacy. “In one bold step, we can create jobs in the tourism sector and enhance America’s image abroad,” Delahunt said. “We all know the best ambassadors for our nation are ordinary Americans, so every additional visitor to the US will return home to report on the warmth and vitality of our hospitality.”

The bill, which seeks to address a chronic decline in overseas visitors to our shores, will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

The Senate 79-19 vote to approve the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) came after months of bi-partisan efforts to bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. Last year, Delahunt and Blunt were able to win House passage of the Travel Promotion Act, but the bill never reached the Senate floor. Today’s news sets the table for reconsideration by the House. Delahunt said he is determined to see the bill enacted into law during this congressional session.

Since 2001, the U.S. share of the world travel market has decreased by nearly 20 percent, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. Additionally, the travel industry is feeling the sharp effects of the economic downturn. In 2008, nearly 200,000 travel-related jobs were lost nationally, and the U.S. Commerce Department forecasts that another 247,000 jobs will be lost in 2009.

Nearly every developed nation in the world has a travel promotion program as a tool for economic development. Nations such as Australia, Greece, Mexico and Malaysia spend more than $110 million annually competing for visitors. The United Kingdom and Turkey spend more than $80 million annually; Canada spends more than $60 million each year. While 633,000 fewer overseas travelers visited the United States in 2008 than in 2000, other countries welcomed more international visitors. Over the same period, international visitation to the United Kingdom increased by 24 percent, Australia is up 18 percent and Mexico is up 8 percent. These nations are competing with the United States for international visitors, and are winning. The United States is one of the few developed countries in that does not have a nationally coordinated campaign.

The Travel Promotion Act will establish a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination. The legislation calls for travel promotion to be paid for by private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who enter the United States under the auspices of the visa waiver program. The bill - which requires no money from the American taxpayer - is estimated to attract 1.6 million new international visitors to the country and add $4 billion to the U.S. economy. An analysis by the U.S. Travel Association reveals that this program would create nearly 40,000 new American jobs.

The legislation, which current has 70 House cosponsors, would also establish the Corporation for Travel Promotion, an independent, non-profit corporation governed by an 11-member board of private-sector directors appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.

Tourism is the fifth largest industry in Massachusetts, generating $11 billion in sales and providing nearly 14 percent of the state’s total private sector employment. One out of every eight jobs nationally is associated with the tourism industry.

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