House passes ‘Travel Promotion Act’

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would create a public-private partnership aimed at promoting the United States as a top international travel destination.

The “Travel Promotion Act” now returns to the Senate, which previously passed the bill. The House voted 358-66 in favor of the bill.

“The need for travel promotion has never been greater,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a news release. “As the recent vote of the International Olympic Committee demonstrated, the United States must invest in better explaining its security policies and attracting foreign travelers. The Travel Promotion Act is a ‘win-win’ for our economic and diplomatic efforts.”

The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 would be funded through “private sector contributions” and $10 “user fees” paid by international visitors. The bill does not rely on American taxpayer dollars and would result in a $400 million Travel Promotion Fund, its sponsors say.

“The Travel Promotion Act will not only boost travel and create jobs in the tourism industry, it will enhance America’s image around the world,” U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., said in a news release. “Over the past eight years, the United States’ share of the world travel market has decreased by nearly 20 percent, costing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. We need to reverse that trend and create more jobs here at home.”

Opponents say the legislation could actually hurt tourism because of the increased costs to visit the country.

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