Today Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) introduced legislation aimed at boosting local and statewide economic growth by reducing bureaucratic hurdles that make it harder for foreign tour companies to bring tourists directly into Melbourne International Airport. Specifically, Posey's bill - Services to Allow New Destinations for Tourism Act or STAND for Tourism Act (H.R. 5968) - authorizes the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to receive reimbursements from non-federal government agencies for inspection services on an infrequent or seasonal basis, thus allowing smaller ports of entry to accept more international travelers.
"Smaller airports like Melbourne International Airport often have to redirect inbound international flights to other ports of entry that are fully staffed by permanent U.S. Customs employees," said Congressman Posey. "By giving Customs the flexibility to provide inspection services on a more infrequent or seasonal basis, my bill will help boost local economies that are centered around smaller ports of entry -- like the Space Coast -- by attracting more international tourists."
"Congressman Posey's STAND for Tourism Act addresses a major hurdle to expanding international service to the region and the state," said Melbourne International Airport Executive Director Richard A. Ennis.
"The Melbourne International Airport greatly appreciates the legislation presented by Congressman Posey and believes this will expedite the process of attracting international service to not only Melbourne International Airport, but other User Fee Airports in Florida, such as Daytona International and Sarasota International," Ennis said. "We believe this can only be a major boost to the economies in all regions, and it offers foreign travelers additional options to enjoy their visits to Florida."
Under existing law CBP cannot be reimbursed by smaller airports for infrequent "seasonal" inspection services. The STAND for Tourism Act would change those restrictions and enable international charter flights into the state at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan is a prime cosponsor in the House and a similar proposal is pending in the U.S. Senate.