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Begich Supports Travel Promotion Act Passage

Bill will create jobs, boost U.S. economy

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich tonight joined his colleagues in the Senate in a bi-partisan vote on the Travel Promotion Act. The Act cleared the Senate by a vote of 78-18.

“This is a jobs bill pure and simple. The visitor industry is a vital part of our economy.  In Alaska, this industry employs over 40,000 people, about 15 percent of the state’s workforce, bringing nearly $2 billion in direct expenditures into our state annually,” Begich said.

“Nationally, the travel and tourism industry generates $1.7 trillion annually for the U.S. economy, and employs over 17 million people.  Promoting travel to the U.S. will put Alaskans to work and it will benefit small businesses,” he added.

Sen. Begich was one of the original co-sponsors of the bill which creates a public-private partnership to clearly communicate U.S. travel policies and promote travel to all destinations in the U.S. The Act sets up a “Corporation for Travel Promotion” which would be tasked with representing all aspects of the travel and tourism industry to clear up misperceptions and negative impressions about travel to the United States including:

· Better communicating U.S. entry policies;

· Promoting travel to America;

· Ensuring promotional efforts benefit all 50 states and the District of Columbia;

· Focusing efforts on countries and travelers most likely to travel to America.

Federal funding for the Corporation will come from a $10 fee paid by foreign travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries and matching contributions from the travel industry.

According to travel reports, since September 2001, overseas travel to the United States has decreased dramatically. The U.S. had almost 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors in 2009 than in 2000. Experts say that translates into a loss of $214 billion in direct visitor spending and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will reduce the federal deficit by over $425 million in the first ten years and the U.STravel Association estimates it will create 40,000 jobs in the first year.

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