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Bill could help U.S. travel pick up

John Dimsdale Sep 9, 2009
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Bill could help U.S. travel pick up

John Dimsdale Sep 9, 2009
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Bill Radke: In other news, the Senate is expected to vote yes today on a new measure to attract tourism. Our country’s gotten less welcoming to visitors since the terrorist attacks eight years ago —
we do all these border checks now and passenger screenings. Marketplace’s John Dimsdale says the new initiative
would try to win people back.


John Dimsdale: The bill sets up a nonprofit corporation to coordinate all the country’s private sector tourism promotion programs. It would raise as much as a hundred million dollars a year by collecting a ten dollar fee from many foreign visitors. Then the private industry will have to match the government funds before they can be spent. The industry predicts the extra effort could attract another million and a half tourists from overseas.

Some critics complain this is another government intrusion into the private sector. But Jeff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association says government border screenings, set up after 9/11, have discouraged visitors.

Jeff Freemman: All the private sector is saying here is at the very least, the government should be our partner in limiting the negative impact of those barriers. Around the world right now, people question whether or not they’re welcome in the United States. The government must be a partner with the private sector in sending that welcoming message.

Freeman says the average foreign tourist brings over $4,000 into the U.S. economy. And it looks like there is enough support in the Senate, which is likely to send the bill on to the House sometime today.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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