INCREASING OVERSEAS TRAVEL TO THE U.S. THROUGH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TRAVEL PROMOTION ACT
WHEREAS, travel and tourism is a powerful economic generator in all 50 states, accounting for $740 billion in expenditures, $115 billion in local, state and federal taxes and 7.7 million jobs in 2008; and
WHEREAS, travel is America's leading service sector export, generating $142.7 billion in 2008 from international travelers (including international passenger fares); and
WHEREAS, travel and tourism creates one of the nation's only balance of trade surpluses, valued at $29.7 billion in 2008; and
WHEREAS, the world travel market is expanding, but the U.S. share has declined 33 percent over the past 16 years; and
WHEREAS, travel to the United States from overseas destinations is still 633,000 below pre-9/11 levels; and
WHEREAS, all major industrialized nations except the United States have national travel promotion programs and spend significant funds to promote their destinations overseas, and, in turn, see substantial returns on their investments; and
WHEREAS, the facilitation of secure, yet efficient, travel across American borders must be a priority of the federal government; and
WHEREAS, educating international travelers about changes in U.S. travel policies will help dispel negative perceptions about the entry process and provide a more welcoming experience for visitors; and
WHEREAS, the Travel Promotion Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and co-sponsored by 52 U.S. Senators during the 110th session of Congress; and
WHEREAS, Senators Byron Dorgan and John Ensign and Representatives Bill Delahunt and Roy Blunt are introducing the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 during the 111th session of Congress; and
WHEREAS, the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 will create a public-private partnership to educate travelers about U.S. travel policies and promote the United States as a destination of choice; and
WHEREAS, the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 will benefit every state, create jobs, enhance national security, contribute to a favorable balance of trade for the U.S. economy, and improve our national image around the world; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors calls upon the U.S. Congress to promptly pass the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and thus create a public-private partnership that will restore the U.S. to its place as the world's premier overseas visitor destination.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the federal government to improve visa and entry policies and procedures - including but not limited to the strengthening and expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, the reduction of visa interview wait times, the use of advanced technology to streamline visa interviews and the entry process, and improved customer service at air, land and sea ports of entry - to create a balance between increased security and travel facilitation.