Travel Promotion Act Of 2009 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:  Melquiades Martinez
Date: Sept. 9, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MARTINEZ. I feel appreciative for all of the kind comments on the floor today, especially the latest from the Republican leader.

I want to take a moment to speak about the item we will be voting on this afternoon. It may be my last vote, and one which is an issue I have been working on since I was mayor in Orange County, FL, a tourism destination in this tourism and travel promotion bill.

Florida is a global tourist destination, as we all know, and tourism in Florida has suffered as so many other sectors of our economy have, including a 10-percent drop in the first quarter of 2009 in travelers to Florida.

Florida continues to have 10.7 percent unemployment. Tourism bookings at places such as Walt Disney World are down 7 percent over the last year, all of which suggests that in order for us to move beyond this recessionary period and the 10.7 unemployment we see in Florida, it is incumbent upon us to do two things: No. 1 is quit blacklisting destinations such as Florida, Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, by the government and others. It ought to be okay to travel to these great destinations.

But the second would be to move and pass this travel and tourism bill, the Trade Promotion Act, which would establish an independent nonprofit corporation for U.S. travel promotion, governed by an 11-member board of individuals appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.

It would be funded not by taxpayers but instead through the user fees paid by foreign tourists and in-kind contributions by corporate partners. It is something that is absolutely needed. Foreign tourism is a huge source of revenues to States such as Florida and the leader's State of Nevada. It is something that I think is long overdue. So passing this bill today will be a great accomplishment for our Nation, and it will be a tremendous boon to a tourism economy that is reeling in these recessionary times. It will make me awfully happy that this will be something I can sort of button up my Senate career with, a good bill for Florida and a good bill for the people of Florida today unemployed in the tourism industry.

I yield the floor.