WHEREAS, more than 40 mayors from cities across the nation met October 3 in Palm Beach in a working session to develop an action agenda on arts and tourism to present to the next President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the mayors in Palm Beach drafted this national action agenda based on significant consensus on the arts and tourism challenges that cities face; and
WHEREAS, the mayors agreed that:
- Travel and tourism is a diverse industry with a unique impact on the domestic and global economies. The 1950s industrial economy has given way to the 21st Century service economy, and travel and tourism defines that service economy.
- Travel and tourism contributes more than $100 billion in federal, state, and local revenues and at the same time helps to fulfill important social policy goals, such as moving people from welfare to work.
- Travel and tourism is the nation's leading service sector export, generating a balance of trade surplus of $17.4 billion. In 2007 foreign travelers spent more than $122 billion in the United States.
- Travel and tourism's economic contribution to the economy is $740 billion in direct expenditures, $109 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue, $177 billion in payroll, and 7.5 million jobs - one in every eight non-farm jobs.
- Overseas travel to the U.S. has still not rebounded to pre-9/11 levels. Between 2000 and 2007 worldwide long-haul travel increased by 35 million; over the same period the U.S. saw two million fewer travelers from overseas.
- The decline in overseas travel since 2000 has cost America $150 billion in visitor spending and 250,000 American jobs. These are costs that affect every state and city in the country.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors adopts as its policy the actions called for by the mayors in the National Action Forum on Arts and Tourism:
- The President should create a cabinet-level Secretary of Culture and Tourism.
- The Travel Promotion Act to promote international travel to United States should be passed and implemented, and a public-private partnership that will restore the U.S. to its place as the world's premier international visitor destination should be created.
- Congress should be encouraged to expand the Travel VISA Waiver Program to qualified countries, especially in Latin and South America and Asia.
- Congress should be encouraged to increase staffing and implement customer training programs for Customs and Border Service and TSA personnel.
- TSA's use of the most up-to-date passenger-friendly technology must be ensured.
- The Global Entry program, which allows for expedited clearance for pre-approved U.S. residents upon their arrival in United States, should be expanded.
- TSA's Black Diamond/Passenger Self-Select Lanes Program and Model Ports program to allow foreign visitors to more easily enter the country should be expanded.
- The TSA must attach a high priority to fully implementing the Secure Flight program in 2009-2010. According to the TSA, successful Secure Flight implementation will drastically reduce misidentifications by moving watch list matching responsibility away from the airlines and centralizing it in-house. Additionally, bringing watch list matching into TSA will provide consistent application of an expedited and integrated redress process for passengers who believe they have been misidentified as a threat.
- Full federal government support for Chicago's 2016 Olympic and Paralympic bid should be provided.