Under Democratic leadership and as part of our jobs agenda, the Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act on February 25, 2010. The bill, which was signed into law by President Obama on March 4, 2010 (P.L 111-145), will jumpstart economic activity in the tourism industry and create jobs by encouraging tourist travel to the United States. The law establishes a non-profit corporation to execute a nationally-coordinated travel promotion program, better communicate American entry policies to international travelers, and promote leisure, business, and scholarly travel to the United States. This legislation will allow the United States to compete with other countries that spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to promote travel to their countries.
Many industries have felt the debilitating impact of the economic downturn. This is especially true of the tourism industry in the United States. When President Bush was elected, an estimated 26 million individuals visited the United State annually, spending money on a variety of goods and services including transportation, food, lodging, and tourist activities. [U.S. Travel Association, Get America’s Economy Back on Track]
Unfortunately, by 2009, the United States was welcoming 2.4 million fewer overseas travelers annually than in 2000, a loss of 68 million visitors over the past decade, resulting in a 4.9 percent decline of travel-generated jobs. [U.S. Travel Association/Oxford Economics, “The Lost Decade“] If the United States had merely maintained its share of overseas visitors over the past decade, 441,000 jobs could have been created or retained. [U.S. Travel Association, Get America’s Economy Back on Track]
Despite this discouraging news, however, travel and tourism continue to be one of our nation’s largest service exports, supporting 7.7 million travel-generated jobs in 2008. [U.S. Travel Association, Travel Powers America] Senate Democrats have worked hard over the last twelve months to gather bipartisan support to pass the Travel Promotion Act so that the United States can regain its share of the international travel and tourism industry.
The Travel Promotion Act will create jobs. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that the bill could create 40,000 American jobs and yield $321 million in new federal tax revenue annually. [U.S. Travel Association, Get America’s Economy Back on Track] Experts predict that jobs directly related to travel and tourism worldwide are expected to increase roughly 2.4 percent each year over the next ten years. [U.S. Travel Association/Oxford Economics, “The Lost Decade“] This presents the United States with a tremendous opportunity to join in this growth and reverse our current trend of losing jobs in this sector. Senate Democrats understand the power of tourism to stimulate our economy and boost employment.
Today, one in eight jobs in our country are directly or indirectly dependent on travel. At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and looking for a job, Senate Democrats demonstrated leadership and vision in championing this legislation to promote tourism. Small businesses, which make up 90 percent of employers in the travel industry, will receive a particularly strong boost from this new coordinated campaign to promote travel to the United States. [U.S. Travel Association, Get America’s Economy Back on Track]
The Travel Promotion Act will reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the new law will reduce the deficit by $425 million over the next decade. [Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate, S.1023.pdf" target="_blank">S.1023] By boosting tourism in the United States, our nation has the potential to regain $214 billion in direct spending that was lost over the past decade. [U.S. Travel Association/Oxford Economics, “The Lost Decade“] This spending will contribute to our tax revenue and create powerful “downstream” effects in the economy.
The Travel Promotion Act will encourage travel to the United States and increase spending by visitors. The travel promotion campaign provided for in the legislation is expected to yield an additional 1.6 million international visitors a year to the United States, which would translate into $4 billion in additional spending. [U.S. Travel Association, Get America’s Economy Back on Track]
Travel and tourism support jobs and promote economic growth in every region of the country. The travel and tourism sector generates approximately $1.8 trillion in economic activity each year in the United States and supports 7.7 million direct travel-related jobs. In fact, in terms of employment, travel is one of the top 10 industries in 48 states and the District of Columbia. [U.S. Travel Association, Key Travel Statistics] Overseas and international travelers visit all regions of the country, contributing to the economies of every state. The average overseas visitor to the United States spends more than $4,000 per visit and stays in the United States for an average of 16 nights. [U.S. Travel Association, Key Travel Statistics]
Multiple industries will benefit from increased tourism. Increased tourism will boost the hospitality industry, increase the number of individuals eating in American restaurants, encourage additional spending for recreation and entertainment, and expand the use of all forms of transportation. While the direct benefits are obvious, indirect and downstream spending supports numerous industries including agriculture, construction, and retail.