Bennet: Tourism Bill Could Create Over 1,100 New Jobs in Colorado, Increase Travel Spending in State by Over $100M Per Year

Tourism Is Second Largest Industry in Colorado, Generating $4 Billion Per Year and Employing Nearly 150,000 People

Bennet Urges Passage of Fiscally-Responsible, Bipartisan Bill to Boost Colorado's Tourism Economy, Job Creation

Washington, DC - As the economic downturn continues to take its toll on Colorado families, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, pushed today for a tourism bill that could create an estimated 1,100 jobs in Colorado and increase international travel spending in the state by over $100 million.

As Colorado's second largest industry, tourism brings in millions of dollars each year to the state and employs nearly 150,000 Coloradans. While Colorado's tourism economy remains robust, revenues for Colorado's ski industry declined by 8 percent in the first quarter of 2009 and are expected to slip further over the coming months, according to industry analysts.

In an effort to create more jobs in the state and boost Colorado's tourism economy, Bennet urged his colleagues to support the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, a fiscally-responsible bill that would establish a nationally-coordinated travel promotion campaign aimed at attracting international tourists to the United States at no cost to the American taxpayer.

"Tourism is a tremendous economic driver for Colorado, accounting for tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for our economy," said Bennet. "By creating a new, national program to attract international visitors to our state, we can spur job creation and economic growth while building on Colorado's reputation as a place where people want to travel."

The tourism industry has created nearly 17,000 jobs in Colorado since 2002. As the economic downturn continues to hurt local communities and unemployment remains high, this bill could help to reverse this decline by creating new jobs, boosting economic activity and bringing in more revenue for the state.

According to a study conducted in 2007 by Oxford Economics, a leading economic forecasting agency, a modest travel promotion program like the one outlined in this bill could drive between $4 billion - $8 billion in new tourism spending nationwide, a one percent increase in the U.S. market share in tourism.

Colorado accounts for 2.5% of the U.S. market share in the tourism industry and could expect an increase of $100 to $200 million in travel spending. Historically, for every $1 million spent by travelers, eleven new jobs are created, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The potential $100 to $200 million boost in travel spending in Colorado could therefore create between 1,100 to 2,200 new jobs in the state.

At no cost to taxpayers, the bill would:

  • Establish the Corporation for Travel Promotion, an independent, non-profit corporation governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. It also creates an Office of Travel Promotion in the Department of Commerce to develop programs to increase the number of international visitors to the United States.
  • Set up a Travel Promotion Fund, financed by a public-private matching program. Federal contributions will be financed by a required $10 fee paid by foreign travelers from Visa Waiver countries and collected via Electronic Travel Authorization system. A 2007 report finds that any negative impact of the fee would be negligible. The total federal contribution is capped at $100 million per year.

The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 is one part of a multi-pronged process to improve travel to the United States in order to improve international relations, increase revenues from travel, create jobs in the travel industry and promote economic growth across the United States.

The bill is currently being considered by the Senate and is expected to be voted on no later than this week. Bennet is an original cosponsor of this important legislation.