U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) today encouraged his colleagues to swiftly approve the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, an effort to allow the U.S. Travel and Tourism industry to better promote international travel to the United States. Senator Martinez noted that international visits to the U.S. have steadily declined since 2000.
"Last year the United States had 633,000 fewer international travelers than we had in the year 2000. Florida has taken a harder hit, losing 1.3 million visitors over that same period of time," said Martinez speaking on the Senate floor during debate. "The Travel Promotion Act will enable to United States to become its own ambassador by establishing a public-private campaign to promote tourism abroad. It will benefit our economy, it will complement our nation's diplomatic efforts, and perhaps most importantly, it will help to create new jobs."
Between 2000 and 2008, the United States tourism industry has experienced an estimated 58 million in lost arrivals, $182 billion dollars in lost spending, $27 billion in lost tax receipts, and $47 billion in lost payroll.
"The average international traveler spends forty-five hundred dollars per visit," Martinez stated. "Promoting international tourism is something most other nations do already including China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. It's time we started competing."
The U.S. House of Representatives already approved the Travel Promotion Act in 2008. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week. The measure creates a non-profit organization to promote and attract international travels to the United States.The campaign program would be paid for by private sector contributions and visa fees paid by foreign tourists.