Digital News Report- The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has approved the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, which will create a public-private partnership worth up to $200 million annually in an attempt to attract international tourism. The Commerce Department has projected an 8% decrease in foreign visitors this year. International travel to the U.S. declined by 10% in the first quarter alone.
The bipartisan legislation, which was led by Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV), could generate $4 billion annually. The legislation will add a $10 fee to foreign visitors seeking visa waivers and matched monies from the private sector. There will be no effect on the American taxpayer.
“Our nation’s economy is struggling and international travel promotion is part of the solution,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “This much-needed legislation will help the United States to create thousands of new jobs and welcome billions in new spending by international visitors.”
Approximately one out of eight Americans are employed in the tourism industry, which generates $1.3 trillion a year nationally. In 2008, the U.S. lost 200,000 travel related jobs and, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, another 247,000 jobs could be lost in 2009 if the industry doesn’t recover. The legislation could create 40,000 new jobs.
The Commerce Department expects a 3% increase in 2010. “The numbers are a reminder that while the current global economic climate is difficult, more business sectors, like travel and tourism, are seeing glimmers of hope on the horizon,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.