Klobuchar, Blunt say tourism critical to nation’s economic growthChairman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, co-chaired a hearing Tuesday examining ways to remove barriers in the tourism industry and promote international travel to the United States.
By: Staff Report , Alexandria Echo Press
Washington, D.C. – Chairman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, co-chaired a hearing Tuesday examining ways to remove barriers in the tourism industry and promote international travel to the United States.
The hearing focused on the importance of tourism to the U.S. economy and the implementation of the Travel Promotion Act (TPA), bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Klobuchar and signed into law in March 2010 that is projected to add $4 billion to the U.S. economy annually with no cost to taxpayers.
Tourism contributes over $700 billion to the U.S. economy and is the fifth-largest industry in Minnesota, generating $11 billion in sales and providing nearly 11 percent of the state’s total private-sector employment. Nancy Johnson, the Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Carlson Hotels testified at the hearing.
“Tourism is about jobs and creating new economic opportunities for businesses,” Klobuchar said. “By cutting red tape and bolstering the tourism industry we can help strengthen our local communities, attract new visitors from abroad, and stimulate economic growth with no cost to taxpayers.”
“The revenue generated by the tourism industry adds billions of dollars to our nation’s economy and sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs in Missouri and across American,” said Blunt. “I’m committed to helping to cultivate and expand our nation’s tourism industry by breaking down bureaucratic barriers and streamlining entry procedures in order to allow travelers to experience all of the destinations that America has to offer.”
During the hearing Klobuchar highlighted TPA, which is estimated to bring an additional 1.6 million visitors to the United States. Travelers to the United States spend an average of $4,500 per visit, which would add $4 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership, is responsible for helping increase tourism in the United States by developing advertising campaigns to promote the United States abroad and educate travelers about entry policies.
Klobuchar highlighted that to take advantage of new visitors, the State Department and other agencies need to cut red tape to increase the speed of visa applications for foreign travelers to better compete with other global destinations. She also focused on the challenges facing the tourism industry and outlined ways to strengthen this vital industry and questioned witnesses about the Model Ports of Entry Program, which is now operating in 20 of America’s busiest international airports with the goal of making the customs and immigration process more streamlined and visitor-friendly.
Klobuchar is the Chairman and Blunt is the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion that oversees the U.S. tourism industry.