Obama signs Travel Promotion Act into law

ATLANTA — President Obama last week signed into law the first “national travel promotion and communications program” aimed at attracting more international travelers to the U.S., and Georgia officials say the new law could benefit the state.

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

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

“The new legislation will increase the U.S. share of the international travel market impacting communities all across Georgia,” Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said in a news release. “The tourism industry is a major economic stimulus, and employs 241,500 Georgians.”

International visitors in 2008 spent $1.7 billion in Georgia, according to the Department of Economic Development.

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