Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced final passage late last night of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, a proposal which will boost tourism in New York and across the country. The legislation will now be sent to the President for his signature. The legislation would invest federal dollars in private-public partnerships to actively promote and market American vacations to international travelers.
“From world class vineyards on Long Island and in the Finger Lakes to Niagara Falls to the beautiful Adirondacks and all the attractions of New York City, there is absolutely no place better to vacation than New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “During these tough economic times, it is critical that we promote New York’s tourism to help turn our economy around and ensure long term growth. I have long advocated for this type of federal initiative into tourism promotion because I believe it holds tremendous economic opportunity for New York State.”
Over the past six years, visitors to the U.S. have declined, along with billions of dollars in tourism-generated revenue. Studies show that the average overseas visitor spends $4,500 per visit. However, since 2001, the U.S. has lost an estimated $182 billion in diminished visitor spending and $27 billion in tax receipts. Job creation and job retention in a host of tourism-reliant industries have been affected by this loss of business.
Tourism is a critical industry in New York. According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic and international travelers to New York spent $51.3 billion in 2007 and generated $9.9 billion to federal, state and local governments, dollars that help fund jobs and public programs such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers.
The legislation will also focus on increasing information about U.S. border policies and procedures to facilitate entry into the United States. In recent months, several parts of Upstate New York have reported a decline in tourism as a result of increased standards established as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This legislation would help to reverse that trend by promoting education of procedures that make it easier to cross the border, such as Enhanced Drivers Licenses and NEXUS cards, which offer pre-screening and quick entry for border travelers.
The Travel Promotion Act would establish a non-profit corporation to better communicate U.S. entry policies to international travelers and promote leisure, business, and scholarly travel to the United States. The legislation would also create an Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce to coordinate with the corporation.