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Congress Passes Senator Blunt’s Bipartisan Bill To Boost Jobs, Support Travel & Tourism

December 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress approved legislation last night introduced by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) to help boost jobs by supporting international tourism to the United States. The “Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act” was included in the bipartisan omnibus agreement, which was approved by the U.S. Senate yesterday and is heading to President Barack Obama’s desk. Blunt previously introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill reauthorizes Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism in Missouri and nationwide. In 2013, Brand USA generated 1.1 million additional international visitors who spent an estimated $3.4 billion, strengthening local businesses and stimulating economic growth.

 “Travel and tourism are important to jobs in Missouri and nationwide, and Brand USA has produced great results attracting more visitors to the United States,” Blunt said. “I introduced this bill several times in the House, and I’m pleased that Senator Klobuchar and I were able to get a five-year extension included in the omnibus so we can continue to promote increased international travel to the U.S. and bring revenue and jobs to communities across the nation.” 

Additional Background Information:

In April 2014, Klobuchar and Blunt introduced the bipartisan “Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act” to reauthorize Brand USA through 2020. The House companion bill was introduced by U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) and Peter Welch (Vt.).

Brand USA is funded by international visitors and private contributions – not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions. The rest of the budget – up to a maximum of $100 million – is funded by a nominal fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Brand USA can only collect up to $100 million from ESTA fees paid by foreign travelers visiting the U.S., and amounts collected in excess of the cap are returned to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the deficit. The legislation has 40 additional co-sponsors in the Senate.

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