Travel Association Board Adopts Legislative Priorities, Anticipates Challenges
November 22, 2010
For immediate release
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Nov. 14, 2010
Travel Association Board Adopts Legislative Priorities, Anticipates Challenges
Washington, D.C.-The NTA Board of Directors has adopted its legislative priorities for 2011, including freedom to travel to Cuba, release of Highway Reauthorization funds, quicker access to visas for international travelers to the United States, and a rapid implementation of technological upgrades to the air traffic control system. But according to Stephen Richer, NTA public affairs advocate, gaining traction with these issues in the new Congress will be difficult.
"We anticipate a challenging time in the 112th Congress," Richer said. "It is obvious that any spending legislation will have to meet different criteria in this session. In the last session, there was an early effort to assist the national economy through stimulus spending, which is unlikely to be the case in 2011."
Richer cited other factors that will make it difficult to successfully advocate the approval of new measures. He mentioned specific roadblocks, many of which are a result of the recent national election:
- There are more than 100 new members of Congress, and they will need time to set up their staffs and get acquainted with Congressional procedures.
- Both political parties have moved away from the center, making compromise a lot more challenging. Democratic centrists were among the largest numbers defeated on Nov. 2, while Republican centrists were infrequently nominated (or, in a few cases, defeated) in primaries.
- The new Congress has prioritized undoing or modifying legislation enacted in the 111th Session.
- Both political parties are likely to focus on the upcoming 2012 election, when the presidency and control of both the Senate and House are at stake, making political calculations a major element in any legislative activities.
Richer reported that he and other NTA members and officials will make a major effort to acquaint the 112th Congress with the NTA agenda at NTA’s Annual Grassroots Symposium in Washington, D.C., March 14-16, 2011.
NTA is the leading association for professionals serving travelers to, from and within North America. Since its founding in 1951, the association has served a broad and diverse membership and helped them expand market reach with innovative business tools, strategic relationships and collaboration within the industry. NTA membership represents more than 40 countries. To learn more about NTA, please visit NTAonline.com/.
2011 NTA Government Relations Priority Issues
1. Cuba. Cuba remains the only country to which U.S. citizens and official residents cannot travel without a specific U.S. granted license, thereby limiting freedom to travel.
NTA will continue its leadership and support of the Travel Restriction Reform and
Export Enhancement Act, allowing general U.S. travel to Cuba, as well as a less cumbersome process to sell agricultural products there.
2. Reseller taxes. New taxes are being placed on "resellers" of travel by some states and local jurisdictions. Previously, such taxes supported destination marketing. Now they are a source of general revenue in many jurisdictions.
NTA opposes any legislation that will create new jurisdictional filings of taxes on tour product elements.
3. Travel Regional Investment Partnership Act. Because legislation to provide matching grants to destination marketing organizations will strengthen domestic travel within the U.S.,
NTA will continue its leadership role in seeking passage of TRIP to assist domestic marketing through our DMO members, providing recognition within the federal government that domestic travel is good for job creation, revenue generation and the overall economy.
4. Highway Reauthorization funding. There is a backlog of more than $700 billion in highway infrastructure needs in the United States. Highways, roads, tunnels and bridges are essential for the safe transport of our travelers and the general public.
NTA will work with legislative leaders, the U.S. Department of Transportation and strategic partners in the transportation sector to pass legislation that funds prioritized infrastructure needs. With the modern equipment regularly used by NTA tour operators and NTA’s priority on safety, it is imperative that the condition of roads, highways, bridges and tunnels is well maintained and upgraded to meet these standards.
5. Federal lands funding. National parks and other public lands are key attractions for tour operators. Maintenance of facilities, interpretation and marketing must all be present for the successful use of public lands.
NTA will work with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the
National Forest Service and other public-lands managers to support adequate funding for the maintenance, interpretation and marketing of these public assets. NTA should cooperate with the NPS agenda to drive visitors to underutilized public lands and underutilized parts of public lands, while taking a leadership role in stimulating visitation by infrequent visitor segments of the population.
NTA will provide additional leadership in keeping the visitation to public lands affordable and accessible and, in so doing, maintain the working relationships that give ample notice to tour operators on any price increases for admission to public lands, the paid services provided or changes in access. Early notification will give NTA time to either accept the changes or work to find better alternatives.
6. Motorcoach safety. Passenger safety in motorcoach travel is under review in terms of motorcoach construction, seat belt installation and safety rules for nine-to-15 passenger minivans. These are all desirable goals that should be implemented in a practical way.
NTA will play a leadership role with other motorcoach organizations to maximize the safety of passengers in a practical, timely way. NTA has previously supported safety improvements in equipment, driver shifts and other operating practices.
NTA supports the use of seat belts on new motorcoach equipment, upgraded construction standards, and federal standards for minivans (nine to15 passengers) being used for tourism purposes on an interstate basis. NTA should support the prompt implementation of regulations on small passenger vehicles by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by giving information to its membership.
7. Energy conservation. It is likely that the global focus on energy conservation will continue, as demand grows with increasing costs. Motorcoach travel is a cost-efficient use of energy, but other forms-such as air travel-have more attendant costs. This subject will become more and more important in global policy. Carbon usage fees are already in place around the globe with major impacts resulting from high fees on airline passengers.
NTA continues its support of "green" tourism and the reduction of energy use it creates.
8. Air Traffic Control. Modern communications are critical especially in the movement of aircraft and the millions of people they carry. One of the points in the 2008 Travel Summit recommendations to the incoming administration was to modernize air traffic safety through modern equipment to reduce congestion and frustration.
NTA supports the installation of new air traffic control system technology, encouraging the quick implementation of the Next Generation (NexGen) Air Transportation System.
9. Visa Access. Both time delays and distant sites for visa interviews diminishes visitation by international travelers. While some steps have been taken, much more needs to be done.
NTA will take a leadership role in finding more ways to provide easier access to visa interviews (e.g., touring agency staff, increased consular staffing in China and Brazil), particularly in those large nations requiring long trips to get an interview. NTA supports other State Department steps to shorten the turnaround time in the process including the upcoming request to Congress for a revision in the face-to-face ruling.
10. Corporation for Travel Promotion. The new Corporation is responsible for educating international travelers about U.S. security and entry process issues, in addition to its primary purpose of increasing visitation to the United States.
NTA will take a leadership role in monitoring the progress of the Corporation, communicating with its members about the activities, programs and the success of this new organization.
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