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Travel Promotion Act 2009

 

The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (the Act) will have significant operational, managerial and funding impacts on the Department of Commerce. Specifically, the Act:

  • Establishes the Corporation for Travel Promotion (Corporation), a nonprofit entity, to communicate U.S. entry policies and otherwise promote leisure, business and scholarly travel to the United States.
  • Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, to appoint the Corporation’s board of directors, review and approve the Corporation’s annual objectives, and transmit the Corporation’s report to Congress.
  • Funds the Corporation from the collection of a fee assessed on travelers from visa waiver countries in the completion of a form under the DHS requirement for the Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA).
    • In year one, the Corporation is to be funded from a drawdown of up to $10 million.
    • In year two, the drawdown is up to $100 million with a 50% match by industry (80% of the match can be in-kind, 20% must be in cash).
    • In years three, four and five, the drawdown is up to $100 million with 100% industry match.
    • In year six and beyond, funding of the Corporation would be by industry assessment only as the Act sunsets in 2014.
  • Establishes an Office of Travel Promotion within the Department, to be headed by a Director appointed by, and reporting to, the Secretary who has significant travel and tourism industry experience.  The Office will serve as a liaison to the Corporation and be responsible for a broad range of additional activities.
  • Additionally, authorizes a major expansion of the research programs currently administered by the International Trade Administration’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

Facts on the Travel and Tourism Industry

  • The U.S. travel and tourism industry generated $1.4 trillion in sales in 2008, producing billions in local, state and federal taxes. Travel and tourism has become a staple of American service-producing industries, now accounting for 2.7% of the value-added to the U.S. economy (GDP).
  • Travel and Tourism is America’s single-largest services sector exporter, representing 26% of all U.S. services exports and 8% of total U.S. exports ($141.7 billion in 2008). The industry has produced a travel trade surplus every year since 1989, $29.4 billion in 2008.
  • Nearly 8.2 million Americans jobs directly depend upon the continued success of the travel and tourism industry as of third quarter 2009, making it one of America’s largest employers.  This industry paid more than $212 billion in employee compensation in 2007 alone (latest available). One out of every sixteen Americans is employed by travel and tourism-related businesses, most of which are classified as small- to medium-sized businesses.

(Source:  U. S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries)