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NTA Celebrates House Passage of Travel Promotion Act of 2008

September 26, 2008

NTA Celebrates House Passage of Travel Promotion Act of 2008 

Sept. 26, 2008 –On Thursday night, Sept. 25, the U. S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote H. R. 3232, the Travel Promotion Act of 2008. The bill creates the Corporation for Travel Promotion and a potential annual budget of $100 million to market the United States as a travel destination and inform international travelers on the entry requirements, documentation, fees and processes to visit the United States.

NTA, the Travel Industry Association, and dozens of other organizations, who participated in the Discover America Partnership, have been working on this bill and its Senate companion bill, S.1661, for almost two years. The collective effort generated 245 House sponsors and 51 Senate sponsors. Congressional leaders, including William Delahunt, D-Mass., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Jon Porter, R-Nev., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Edward Whitfield, R-Kt., deserve many kudos for their leadership in the House on this bill

"This is a major step along the way to seeing the United States have the resources necessary to regenerate and surpass previous overseas market share numbers," said NTA Public Affairs Advocate Steve Richer, CTP. "TIA, our strategic partners in the travel economy, and our Grassroots Action Network members can all be proud of this achievement."

The House amended the original bill for more fiscal accountability and federal oversight of the Corporation and its work. The Senate bill has significant differences, including a new Undersecretary of Commerce for Tourism and a revenue assessment authority for the Corporation, as well as different limits on the in-kind match percentage (65 percent House, 80 percent Senate) in the private sector participation in the required matching money to get the federal share from a $10 per visitor fee on visitors from visa-waiver countries.

There are challenges ahead for getting the Senate bill to the floor. These include:

  • Substituting the less objectionable House version
  • Working out any differences in a conference committee
  • Doing so before both houses adjourn for the national election, or getting consideration continued in any lame duck session
  • Overcoming a strenuous Administration objection to the legislation

This objection comes in the form of a threat of a presidential veto, which was delivered the morning of the House vote in an unexpected letter from U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

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