Senate Commerce Committee Reports Bills Promoting Travel to U.S. […]

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation reported four bills today, including the Travel Promotion Act of 2007, which promotes international travel to the United States through a non-profit Corporation for Travel Promotion. […] “The travel and tourism industry is a driving force for our nation’s economy,” said Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). “The Travel Promotion Act will attract visitors to America and improve our nation’s image abroad, all while bettering our nation’s economy.” “This legislation will help increase the number of foreign tourists who visit the United States by creating a robust travel promotion campaign,” said Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). “This bill is particularly important to my home State of Alaska, where the travel and tourism industry is the second largest private sector employer. More than 24,000 Alaskans hold tourism-related jobs, and the industry contributes more than $2 billion to our State’s economy each year.” S. 1661, Travel Promotion Act of 2007Introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), with the original cosponsorship of Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Stevens, the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 would establish a non-profit Corporation for Travel Promotion (Corporation) and establish the Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce headed by the Under Secretary for Travel Promotion, to promote international travel to the United States. The Corporation would be comprised of a 15-member board consisting of representatives of states, the federal government, higher education, and the travel industry, who would use advertising, among other means, to encourage travel to all regions within the United States, and correct misperceptions overseas regarding U.S. travel policies. The bill would authorize the Corporation to borrow $10 million from the Treasury in 2008 to cover its initial expenses but require the Corporation to pay the funds back by 2012. Starting in 2009, the Corporation would be required to raise non-federal funds, including in-kind contributions. Based on the amount raised by the Corporation, up to $100 million in federal matching funds would be made available annually from the Travel Promotion Fund established in the Treasury. The Travel Promotion Fund would be financed by a $10 user fee, which would be imposed on international travelers to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. United States taxpayers will not bear the cost of supporting the Corporation.The Under Secretary would serve as liaison to the Corporation, work with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State Department to improve the entry and departure experience for international visitors, and promote travel into and within the country.As amended, the bill also would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a model port of entry program at the 20 airports with the highest number of foreign travelers arriving annually. The Secretary is further directed to hire 200 additional Customs and Border Protection officers to address staffing shortages at the 20 airports, subject to appropriations.”As stated by the Public Information Office.

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