Senate passes Travel Promotion Act with Hawaii Senators’ support


A bill that establishes a non-profit corporation to promote US leisure, business, and scholarly travel to foreign visitors passed the US Senate today.

The Travel Promotion Act of 2009, co-sponsored and supported by Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka, is aimed at promoting foreign travel and tourism to the United States.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

The measure, which passed the Senate by a vote of 79-19, will also help better communicate US entry policies to international visitors.

The legislation creates an Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce to coordinate with the corporation.

“As the global economy sputters, our visitor industry suffers and any help the federal government can provide our number one industry would aid our economic recovery,” said Senator Inouye. “As the gateway to the Asia Pacific region, Hawaii is uniquely positioned to serve as a hub for international visitors wishing to travel to our islands and then onto the US mainland. Both developing countries and industrialized economies around the world have ministers and offices that promote travel to their respective countries, but the US does not. This legislation is an important first step in the right direction.”

“Tourism and the conventions, meetings, and incentive industry are crucial to Hawaii’s economy, but they are vulnerable to international events and fluctuations,” said Senator Akaka. “This legislation would encourage people to visit the US by helping potential visitors navigate tightened post-9/11 travel policies and by competing with other countries’ marketing campaigns. Promoting international travel is a solid investment in our economy.”

Through July, 969,343 international visitors traveled to Hawaii compared to 1,066,524 in 2008, a decrease of 9.1 percent, according to the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism.

Overall, compared to the first seven months in 2008, visitors to the islands for the same period this year fell by 8.1 percent.

According to the U.S. Travel Association , travel spending in Hawaii in 2007 totaled US$16.3 million, generating US$2.26 million in tax receipts and employing 155,200 people with a total payroll of US$4.6 million.