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DAP praises Senators desicion to promote travel to US

The Discover America Partnership applauded the introduction of the “Travel Promotion Act of 2007” by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), as legislation critical to…

The Discover America Partnership applauded the introduction of the “Travel Promotion Act of 2007” by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), as legislation critical to reversing declining trends in overseas travel to the United States, boosting the U.S. economy and strengthening the nation’s public diplomacy efforts.

The legislation is consistent with the proposals outlined in the Discover America Partnership’s Blueprint to Discover America and demonstrates an increasing awareness on Capitol Hill that the USA must better explain its security policies and compete for travelers in a post-9/11 environment.

“America is the only developed country that does not operate a nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign,” said Geoff Freeman, Executive Director of the Discover America Partnership. “This is critical legislation and we are grateful to Senators Dorgan, Stevens, and Inouye for recognizing the importance of international visitors to America’s economy and public diplomacy efforts.”

The “Travel Promotion Act of 2007” will address America’s overseas travel crisis by establishing a travel promotion campaign funded equally by a fee on overseas travelers and contributions from the U.S. travel industry. The effort would be run by an independent, non-profit corporation, the Corporation for Travel Promotion, and would be a nationally coordinated, public-private campaign to clearly explain U.S. security policies, improve perceptions of the U.S. travel process and promote the United States as a premier travel destination.

Key elements of the bill include:

  • Establishment of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, an independent, non-profit corporation governed by a 14-member board of private-sector directors appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.

  • Creation of a Travel Promotion Fund, initially financed by a $10 fee paid by overseas travelers from Visa Waiver countries and collected via the Electronic Travel Authorization system. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2010, user fee contributions, capped at $100 million, would match private industry donations to the fund.

  • Establishment of an Office of Travel Promotion and an Under Secretary for Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce to develop programs to increase the number of international visitors to the United States and to supervise the activities of the existing Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI). The Under Secretary is also tasked with working with the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to enhance the entry and departure experience for international visitors.

  • Expansion of OTTI research in support of international travel promotion.

Last week, First Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, in partnership with Oxford Economics, released the results of a report detailing how a $10 visa waiver fee, in conjunction with an expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, would, if allocated appropriately, lead to an increase of at least 1.6 million travelers annually, yielding $8 billion in new visitor spending and $850 million in new federal tax revenue.

The importance of international travel is reflected in countless studies showing that those who have visited America have more favorable opinions of the country and are more likely to support U.S. policies.

“America has a long tradition of welcoming overseas travelers to its shores, and those travelers have, in turn, brought great benefits to the United States,” said Freeman. “We are encouraged that with the introduction of this legislation, all components of the Discover America Partnership’s ‘Blueprint’ have been introduced in Congress and we are moving closer to welcoming more travelers to our country.”

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.