Senate one step closer to bill to promote US as tourism destination


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Tuesday approved a procedural motion on legislation that would create an entity to promote the U.S. as a tourism destination abroad.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been a strong advocate of the legislation, which is perhaps not surprising as he faces a potentially tough re- election fight in Nevada, an economy hard hit by the downturn that relies on tourism for a significant chunk of its revenues.

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The Tourism Promotion Authority would create a non-profit corporation to raise the profile of the U.S. overseas to compete for lucrative tourist dollars. The backers of the legislation said the U.S. would be playing catch-up with the many other countries that already have similar entities.

The corporation would be funded by a $10 fee on visitors from countries the federal government doesn’t require to have a visa in order to visit the U.S.

Democratic lawmakers have said the bill would create tens of thousands of jobs and save the U.S. taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in increased revenues stemming from greater tourist spending.

Reid was stymied back in June when he initially attempted to bring forward the legislation for a debate when lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on the number of amendments that would be allowed to be attached to the bill.

He has been a staunch defender of finding time on the crowded legislative calendar for the legislation despite the litany of pressing items the Senate has on its plate.

Reid is running for his fifth term representing Nevada in the Senate. Two recent polls have him slightly trailing possible Republican opponents in the contest next fall.