USCM Priority Travel Promotion Act Signed into Law
Legislative Victory for USCM
By Tom McClimon
March 8, 2010
President Barack Obama signed into law on March 5 the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The Senate passed the bill a week earlier on an overwhelming vote of 78-18.The House of Representatives passed the legislation in October 2009.
The passage of the Travel Promotion Act, which establishes an international marketing campaign to attract foreign visitors to the United States, has been a major priority of the Conference of Mayors. The Conference of Mayors passed its first resolution in support of the Travel Promotion Act at its 74th Annual Conference in 2006 and has repeatedly done such every year since. The bill has also been a priority item for the Conference’s leadership. Conference of Mayors President Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz included the Travel Promotion Act as part of the jobs platform of her 2010 Metro Agenda for America. Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Past President of the Conference of Mayors, included passage of this legislation as part of his five Mayors Action Forums, which were held to draw national attention to Conference priorities and mayors’ challenges. Past Conference President Trenton (NJ) Mayor Douglas H. Palmer also included the Travel Promotion Act as part of the Mayors 10-Point Action Plan, which was presented to the 2008 presidential candidates.
“All of us believe America has the best places to travel to,” said the President in signing the bill. “We attract millions of visitors to the US every year and this bill will help us attract more. Our ability to highlight America’s sights, scenery, and people is something we all should be encouraging and that’s what this bill does.”
“We applaud the President and Congress for passing the Travel Promotion Act that will create thousands of new jobs in America,” stated Kautz. “Americans need jobs now and this bill will help to get our national and local economies moving again.”
“I’m very grateful to President Obama for signing this important measure into law,” said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Conference of Mayors Trustee and Standing Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Chairman. “The mayors made the Travel Promotion Act part of our 10-Point Action Plan and our 2010 Metro Agenda for America, and worked very hard to secure its passage on Capitol Hill,” said Hannemann. “The President’s approval is wonderful news for our nation, and especially for cities where tourism is a major economic pillar.”
“Today’s event in the White House is a direct result of a powerful public-private partnership with the mayors of this nation. The United States Conference of Mayors joined with the Travel Business Roundtable and the U.S. Travel Association coming together for the common good of our nation,” said Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, a former board member of the Travel business Roundtable. “This legislation could not have been passed without the mayors and the travel industry consistently pushing and telling Washington just how important international tourism is to our metro-economies and our national economy. Today Congress and the White house are coming around to engage the federal government in helping mayors and the travel and tourism industry to promote cities as other nations do. Heretofore, the USA government has not spent a penny and yet international travel is a big part of our economy. This is a first step and we must do more. Today, we thank President Obama. We also thank the House and Senate. And today, we thank our industry partners and look forward to more victories for our cities, our strong industry partners and for our nation.”
The Conference of Mayors partnered with the travel industry in working on the legislation. “The US Conference of Mayors has been an extraordinary partner in this effort,” stated Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels and Chairman Emeritus of the US Travel Association.
The Travel Promotion Act will create a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination and communicate US security and entry policies. The travel promotion will be paid for by private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers. The US Travel Association, of which The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a member, estimates that the bill would attract 1.6 million new international visitors, create over 40,000 new jobs in its first year, and would generate $4 billion in new economic activity and contribute over $321 million in new federal tax revenue each year.