Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted unanimously to advance the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act (S. 2250), legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a successful travel promotion program aimed at boosting international tourism to the United States. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation, and 24 other Senators introduced the bipartisan legislation earlier this year to promote Hawai"i and other U.S. locations as premier destinations for international visitors. Since introduction, six more senators have cosponsored the bill. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 347-57 to pass H.R. 4450, the House version of the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act.
"Tourism is central to Hawai"i's economy and to good local jobs," Senator Schatz said. "Reauthorizing Brand USA will help grow our visitor industry and continue promoting Hawai"i as one of the best places for international travelers to visit."
According to the Hawai"i Tourism Authority, Hawai"i's tourism industry generated $14.5 billion in total annual visitor spending in 2013, and supported 173,000 jobs.
Brand USA is a non-profit private-public partnership -- authorized by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 -- dedicated to increasing inbound international travel to the United States. The program is funded by fees paid by international visitors and matching contributions by the private sector, not taxpayer dollars. Last year, Brand USA increased inbound travel by 2.3 percent, resulting in 1.1 million additional trips and supported more than 53,000 U.S. jobs.
The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and cosponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai"i), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), David Vitter (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Michael Bennet (D-Co.), Michael Enzi (R-Wy.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
In March, Schatz was named Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation and pledged his commitment to reauthorize Brand USA.