Travel and tourism currently generate $1.8 trillion in economic activity in this country every year, and one out of every eight jobs in the U.S. is either directly or indirectly generated by travel. There has been a decline in overseas travel to the U.S. since 2001, however.
The Travel Promotion Act (TPA) (S.1023), co-sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), would create a private company to advertise the United States as a tourist destination to foreigners. The company would be funded by private contributions matched by up to $100 million a year from the federal government. The bill would also establish assessments, including a $10-per-trip fee on foreign travelers, to help pay for the government’s matching funds.
Every other developed nation in the world has such programs and allots significant funding to support them. Greece spends more than $151 million annually; Mexico budgets almost $150 million; and Australia sets aside more than $113 million for travel promotion.
The AGA has been an active supporter of the TPA. It is projected that passage of the TPA will yield millions of new visitors annually, bringing $4 billion in new visitor spending. The Act would promote domestic and international travel to and throughout the United States, which undoubtedly would equate to increased business for casinos across the country and economic development for states with significant tourism industries.
Status (as of 3/1/10)
On September 9, the U.S. Senate, with strong bipartisan support, passed the Travel Promotion Act by a vote of 79-19. Then, on October 7, the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2935, the Travel Promotion Act by a vote of 358-66. Slight differences between the two bills required the Senate to vote on the legislation again, and on February 25, it passed by 78-18 margin. The bill awaits final approval from President Obama and is expected to be signed into law by mid-March.