President Obama Signs Travel Promotion Act

During a White House signing ceremony yesterday, President Barack Obama officially signed into law the Travel Promotion Act, establishing the country's first-ever national travel promotion and communications program.

The act, which creates a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation's travel industry, will allow the United States to market itself to overseas visitors as an international tourist destination, generating an estimated $4 billion in annual visitor spending and $321 million in annual tax revenue, not to mention 40,000 new jobs.

"When international visitors come to the United States they spend money on a wide range of goods and services that support U.S. jobs," said Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who'll appoint an 11-person board tasked with establishing a nonprofit corporation to manage and spend Travel Promotion Act funds. "Creating a global tourism promotion program to encourage international visitors to vacation in America will help spur economic growth and create more jobs."

Because it's funded with a $10 fee on select foreign travelers, along with matching funds from the private sector—with no U.S. taxpayer support—U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow called the bill a "tax-free stimulus for job creation and economic growth."

"By signing the Travel Promotion Act, President Obama has acted to support the power of travel to serve as an economic stimulant, job generator and diplomatic tool," he said in a statement. "This program will create tens of thousands of American jobs and help reverse negative perceptions about travel to the United States."