Senate Committee Approves Travel Promotion Act

The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has approved S. 1023, the "Travel Promotion Act of 2009," the U.S. Travel Association reported yesterday, bringing the nation one step closer to having a formal marketing program with which to court international travelers.

If passed, the Travel Promotion Act will create a public-private partnership with a budget of up to $200 million annually—funded by a $10 fee on foreign travelers from countries that do not pay for a visa to enter the United States—for the purpose of attracting international travelers to the United States.

"Our nation's economy is struggling and international travel promotion is part of the solution," U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. "This much-needed legislation will help the United States to create thousands of new jobs and welcome billions in new spending by international visitors."

A bi-partisan effort led by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), the Travel Promotion Act would result in advertisements and information for overseas travelers focusing in many instances on communicating America's security policies, which have been perceived as an impediment to incoming international travel since Sept. 11.

The legislation—a version of which has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives—could result in $4 billion annually in new spending by international travelers to the United States, according to an analysis by Oxford Economics.

"Thanks to Senators Dorgan and Ensign, the United States is one step closer to joining nearly every developed nation in the world in competing for visitors, strengthening its economy and enhancing its image," Dow said.