|Historic Night for the Travel Industry|
Last night was a historic night! Shortly before 9:00 p.m., the U.S. Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act creating the Corporation for Travel Promotion and providing up to $100 million for international marketing of the United States brand. It will now go to the President for signature.
I would like to thank the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and everyone in the Florida tourism industry who has been directly and otherwise actively involved in this process. It is truly an extraordinary feat!
I would like to share with you the text of a special send from Roger Dow, President & CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, that went out last night just after the bill passed:
Dear Travel Colleague:
It’s time to toast the entire travel community: we’ve achieved an extraordinary feat with passage of the Travel Promotion Act.
While travel promotion isn’t a panacea for our international inbound travel issues – welcoming more visitors also requires continued improvement in visa and entry processes – this is the biggest commitment our government has made to support international travel to our country and the clearest indication to date that Congress is taking travel seriously. It is a monumental achievement for the industry that will pay dividends for all segments and pave the way for future successes in Washington.
With the President expected to sign the bill into law within days, we especially owe thanks to Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Harry Reid (D-NV) and John Ensign (R-NV), and Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), who championed the legislation during the past two sessions of Congress. They so clearly understood the value of this tax-free stimulus for job creation and economic growth. President Obama, who was a co-sponsor of the legislation as a Senator during the previous Congress, has long understood the importance of this program for improving America’s image around the world.
This is Your Victory
The passage of this bill is the result of a long, multi-year effort by many individuals. When Jay Rasulo, as chair of the association, stood in front of the industry in January 2006 and called for a travel industry “Apollo project,” some in the audience were skeptical of the industry’s ability to meet his challenge. But the industry came together, created a blueprint, worked tactically against a clear agenda, gained allies on Capitol Hill, and ultimately achieved our goal.
The tens of thousands who have written letters in support of the legislation, participated in the Travel Leadership Summits, marched during U.S. Travel Rally Day and helped spread the word about why travel matters have proven what can happen when we stand together with one voice.
Caroline Beteta, U.S. Travel’s current chair, continued the push with a critical understanding of how a public-private partnership can succeed in maximizing the benefits of attracting more travel. Caroline’s leadership was instrumental in moving the ball forward.
Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and Chairman Emeritus of U.S. Travel, also deserves recognition for his leadership in helping raise visibility for this issue. When I shared the good news, Jon said: “We could never have accomplished this common sense policy without our champions in Congress and the White House, and without the united and passionate voice of the travel community. The Travel Promotion Act shows what can be accomplished when the government and private sector work together to solve a problem.”
To all of the Senators and Congressmen who supported this legislation, to President Obama, and to our entire travel community, thank you.
Included below are links to key messages and a sample press release I encourage you to use in reaching out to your local community to share the good news. Following enactment, we will provide a complete toolkit of resources on the implementation of the Travel Promotion Act and what happens next.
It is critical that our industry express its gratitude to those who made this victory possible. Concrete suggestions will be included in the toolkit, and we will soon hold a conference call with all destination partners to discuss these ideas. Until then, take some time to savor your victory.
Again, thanks to everyone in the Florida tourism industry who worked toward this important goal and, as Roger said, “Savor Your Victory.”
President & CEO