Durbin Discusses Travel Promotion Bill That Will Support Illinois Tourism
Chicago 2016 Olympic bid will benefit from legislation
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today discussed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 on the floor of the United States Senate. The legislation will promote tourism to the U.S. while streamlining the process visitors go through to enter the county. More than that, the bill advances Chicago’s interest in being awarded the 2016 Olympic Games by setting up stronger entities to promote internationally the benefits of visiting America.
“In Illinois, tourism adds $2.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and supports more than 300,000 jobs each year,” said Durbin. “This bill will offer the opportunity to showcase internationally all of the other reasons to visit all of America and particularly the great state of Illinois which remains the sixth most popular state among overseas tourists to the United States.”
Nationwide, the bill is estimated to create 40,000 jobs in the first year and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will reduce the deficit by over $400 million.
[Text of remarks as prepared]
Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (S.1023)
Senator Richard J. Durbin
This bill comes to the floor at an auspicious time. On October 2, the International Olympic Committee will select the site for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Chicago is one of the final four global candidates. Winning the Olympic bid could bring 6 million tourists from around the world to the US and generate as much as $7 billion in revenues.
This bill, by encouraging international tourism and better welcoming international visitors to our country, will demonstrate to the world that the US is open for visitors. That can only help improve the chances that the 2016 Olympic Games come to Chicago.
More broadly, encouraging travel and tourism is always important
Tourism and travel generate approximately $1.3 trillion in economic activity in the US every year, including 8.3 million travel-related jobs.
Overseas visits to the US still lag behind pre-9/11 levels, which have cost the US an estimated $182 billion in lost spending and $27 billion in lost tax receipts in the last eight years.
The current economic downturn is expected to cost 250,000 travel-related jobs this year alone.
This bill addresses some of the problems underlying this downturn in overseas visitors.
• Through a public-private, nonprofit Corporation for Travel Promotion, the US will coordinate its efforts to encourage international tourism.
• The new Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce will work to streamline entry procedures, making travel to the US more welcoming and efficient.
The bill does all of this while reducing budget deficits by $425 million over the period 2010 to 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimates.
This bill is particularly important for travel and tourism for Illinois
By setting up stronger entities to promote internationally the benefits of visiting America, this bill certainly advances Chicago’s interest in being awarded the 2016 Olympic Games.
But the bill will also offer the opportunity to showcase internationally all of the other reasons to visit all of America and particularly my great state.
There are many reasons the State of Illinois remains the sixth most popular state among overseas tourists to the United States.
Looking for Lincoln, for example, is a series of stories about President Lincoln’s life and a series of places across 42 counties where they took place.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, brings the history of Lincoln’s life and public service to life. The Presidential Library is the premier collection of Lincoln materials anywhere.
Saline County, Illinois, draws visitors to its Garden of the Gods – the gateway to Shawnee National Forest. Shawnee includes some of the country’s most untouched natural beauty and is filled with Pioneer History.
And summer visits to Quincy feature historic architecture and fun along the mighty Mississippi River.
Unusual tourism destinations
Another benefit of this bill is its mandate that efforts to promote all of the United States include “areas not traditionally visited by international travelers.”
There are plenty of such destinations in Illinois alone. It could be the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville; or the Two-Story Outhouse in Gays; or the Home of Superman and Museum, including a 15-foot Superman statue, in Metropolis, Illinois; or the 6-foot Popeye statue in Chester.
Every state has them, and while they are small, they all say as much about Americana as visits to any big city or natural wonder.
Illinois offers the international visitor a truly American experience.
Impact in Illinois.
In fact, in Illinois tourism adds $2.1 billion to state and local tax coffers and supports more than 300,000 jobs each year.
• In 2008, there were about 1.4 million international visitors to Illinois.
• These international travelers spent $2 billion in all sectors of the Illinois economy: public transportation, auto transportation, lodging, food service, retail, and entertainment and recreation.
• These international visitors generated an additional $521 million in wages and salaries for Illinois residents.
This bill will help grow international tourism to the US, save and create jobs, and generate billions of dollars in revenue and tax receipts. As a cosponsor, I urge my colleagues to support this important effort.
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