Sen. Reid hopes travel bill passes by next week |

Sen. Reid hopes travel bill passes by next week

Oskar Garcia,
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he hopes to pass a bill by next week to create a federal agency to promote tourism to the United States.

Reid says Republican Sens. John Ensign of Nevada, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and George LeMieux of Florida have agreed to support the bill, but he acknowledged he needs more GOP support for the Travel Promotion Act.

Reid told reporters during a conference call that he considers the legislation a jobs bill that would lead to increased tourism and stem a decline in the share of international travelers coming to the United States.

The U.S. Travel Association, which supports the legislation, said in a report this month that the country has failed to keep pace with global growth in international travel.

The study, conducted by the association and advisory firm Oxford Economics, said the United States would have had seen 68.3 million more international visitors during the last decade had it kept pace with increasing tourism worldwide.

The new tourism agency would be established with up to $10 million in federal money and funded by fees paid by international travelers and private sector contributions.

“We have to make sure they have enough resources to do a good job. This is big-time stuff,” Reid said. “It will bring about very quickly up to 50,000 new employees in the service sector, and up to 240,000 people in other aspects of the business world.”

The proposed agency would have an 11-member board of directors, which would hire an executive director and other employees. The agency would run as a nonprofit corporation.

Reid said he thought better promotion of the United States as a destination would have an immediate effect on money spent in the country, without infrastructure changes.

“That will take care of itself,” he said. “All we need is the business.”