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Begich Sponsors TRIP Act to Support Alaska Visitor Industry

Bill designed to boost domestic tourism, create jobs

With a focus on supporting one of Alaska's leading industries and creating jobs nationwide, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on April 19  introduced the Travel Regional Investment Partnership (TRIP) Act. The TRIP Act creates a competitive matching grant program within the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote domestic tourism through local and regional partnerships.

The Act would allow local tourism promotion organizations such as convention and visitors' bureaus to partner with other regional tourism entities such as parks or resorts to put together a proposal for a matching grant, to market their destination in the United States. Grants would range from $100,000 to $1 million and would leverage matching funds and in-kind support from the private sector.

"I have long believed tourism is one of our greatest renewable resources. Visitors add billions of dollars to our economy each year and support thousands of Alaska jobs," Begich said. "As the economy continues to recover, this legislation will allow those in the visitor industry to partner dollars and other resources to go after grants which will have a positive impact on Alaska and other tourism destinations across the country."

The visitor industry employs over 40,000 people in Alaska, about 15 percent of the state's workforce, and brings nearly $2 billion in direct expenditures to the state each year. The recent economic downturn has taken a toll on the travel and tourism industry nationwide. Tourism numbers decreased significantly across the nation in 2009, resulting in the loss of 400,000 American jobs and a $100 billion decline in tourism output.

The TRIP Act will reinvigorate domestic tourism and create jobs. The legislation is considered the domestic counterpart to the recently enacted Travel Promotion Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Begich, and designed to increase visitor traffic from overseas.

"This legislation takes another important step in promoting travel, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this," Begich added.

The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over tourism issues. Congressman Sam Farr has sponsored companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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