tv [untitled] CSPAN June 16, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT
the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. a senator: madam president, i have 15 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. merkley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask consent that any recess time or morning business time count postcloture. the presiding officer: is there an objection? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. madam president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i ask that the quorum call vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: madam president, during these tough economic times, american families expect and deserve that we will do everything we can to get the economy moving again. and of course, that involves investing in our country, investing in our infrastructure, involves getting our financial system in order, involves getting the credit moving again. but we should not forget that one out of eight americans is
employed in the travel industry. i chair the subcommittee of commerce that deals with tourism issues and i've cosponsored the bipartisan legislation to bring new visitors and new spending and new jobs to the united states. i want to thank senator byron dorgan for his leadership and hard work on this bill and i also want to thank senator ensign for his leadership. i spoke last week when we first started talking about this bill about the importance of the tourism and travel industry to our economy. tourism creates good jobs that can't be outsourced. it increases sales for local businesses and it brings in tax revenue for local and state economies. as i said, one out of every eight americans is employed by our travel economy. each year, travel and tourism contribute approximately $1.3 trillion to the american economy. the travel economy contributes
$115 billion in tax revenue in state and federal governments and last year, travel and tourism exports, which means the people coming into our country to enjoy our beautiful country, that accounted for 8% of all u.s. exports. in fact, tourism, madam president, is one of the few economic sectors where we enjoy a substantial trade surplus. but things are not going as well as they could or they should, especially when it comes to bringing international travel to the united states. i know you know that, madam president, coming from the state of new york. i see the senator from michigan here with their recent ad campaign enjoying pure michigan. but we need to bring more peop people, more people to this country. now, what does this mean, what's the problem then? well, as you can see, more
people around the world are traveling. there were 48 million more global overseas travelers in 2008 than there were in 2000. 633,000 fewer visited the united states. now, that's unfortunate. you can see more people around the world are traveling but less are coming to our country. and what does that really mean? well, since 2000, the u.s. share of the world travel market has decreased by nearly 20%, costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. so you can see what happened here in our country. this is in millions of dollars. $26 million brought in in 2000. only $25.3 million in 20 2008, while the rest of the world, $124 million for the rest of the world, $173 million -- up to $173 million in 2008. when a traveler decides to visit
another country, to visit someplace besides the u.s., there's a ripple affect across our economy. fewer airline tickets are sold, fewer cars are rented, hotels and lodges rent fewer rooms, tourist attractions have fewer visitors, local businesses miss out on sales and opportunities, workers lose their jobs and it goes on and on and on. the decline in international travel combined with the current economic downturn is hitting our country's travel industry hard. last year, nearly 200,000 travel-related jobs were lost and the commerce department predicts that we'll lose another 247,000 jobs this year. remember, i'm not talking here about the c.e.o.'s of the airline companies. these are hard-working americans, people who work in the hotel rooms, the cooks, the janitors, the shop workers, the people that own the little flower stores next to the hote hotels. they are the ones making the beds, they're the ones making
the meals. these are the people that we should think about when we talk about the bill before the senate today. so the question before us today is: how can we bring international visiters to the united states? because do you know how much they each spend when they come here? something like $4,500 when they come to our country. $4,500 that goes to provide jobs to those janitors and those maids and those shop owners. we have just as much if not more to offer travelers than any other country in the world. stunning national landmarks like the grand canyon and the statue of liberty in your home state of new york, madam president, centers of fun and entertainment from las vegas to disney world, scenic country towns and the bright lights of the big cities, and those quiet moments in those little towns in my home state of minnesota. but we need to do a better job at promoting the united states as a premier travel destination. we are in a competition for international travelers. we have to face it, we are.
but we're not competing. now, you look at what's going on around the world when it comes to tourism. here are some examples. yemen has their own tourism promotion for their own country. of course, the bahamas, i think many of us have seen those on tv. i certainly v. you see tourism australia. i've seen a few of those ads. south africa. taiwan. scotland. india. these countries are promoting themselves internationally to bring other visitors in. what do we have right now in our country? we don't have a centralized promotion of our country for tourism. countries around the world make tourism a national priority because they see that it bridges jobs to their country -- that it brings jobs to their country. they spend millions of dollars on their program and have senior officials coordinate national tourism policy. frampled, vietnam, new zealand, lebanon and jamaica have ministries of tourism. germany has a national tourist
board and australia has a tourism australia program. in 2005, greece spent more than $150 million on travel promoti promotion. france spent $63 million. that's what we're up against. the travel promotion act, madam president, would level the playing field so we can compete with the rest of the world and recapture the lost market share. it will create the corporation for travel promotion, a public-private partnership to promote the united states as an international travel destination and finally establish a coordinated national travel program. under the direction of a board of directors made up of representatives from the states, the federal government and the travel industry, the corporation would be in charge of a national travel promotion program whose goals would be to encourage travel to the united states, to communicate our country's travel policies, and to promote
international exposure for parts of america that don't have the resources to promote themselves. as i mentioned earlier, our loss in the share of the world travel market isn't a new phenomenon. it actually started after september 11, where, for good reasons, security measures were put in place. but some of these good reasons have turned into very difficult times for tourists to come over and that's what needs to be fixed. that's why part of this bill would make it easier for tourists to get their visas, make it easier for them to come and visit this country. a lot of times it's just simply expediting the checks that need to be made and making sure that they can get their visas just like they can get one, say, to go to canada or mexico or any other country. the bill will also establish the office of travel promotion in the department of commerce to work with the corporation for travel promotion and the secretaries of state and homeland security to make sure that international visitors are processed efficiently. america is a country that wraps
our arms around those that come to visit us, and this bill will make sure international visitors know that they are welcome and wanted. the travel promotion act is about more than just encouraging travel. it is also about building our economy. this bill is expected to bring in 1.6 million new international visitors each year, and since international visitors, as i've noted, spend an average of $4,500 per person while they're here, this is a huge boost to our economy. that money from overseas coming into our economy, into our towns and cities, into our small businesses, that's new money. if they're not going to come and spend it here, they're going to go to one of these other crssments they're going to go to the bahamas, they're going to go to australia, they're going to go to south africa. that's new money coming into our country. the u.s. travel association estimates that this bill will create 40,000 new jobs and economists at oxford economics expect the bill to generate $4 billion in new spending and
$321 million in tax revenue. just as important as how much it will generate is how much it will cost, which is zero for american taxpayers. this bill comes at no cost to the taxpayer. it will be paid for by a combination of private-sector contributions and a $10 fee on international travelers entering the united states of america. zero cost -- big benefit. the congressional budget office just released a report that estimates that this bill will reduce budget deficits by $425 million over the next ten years. that is the bill pending before this body today. the ma math is undeniable. for no cost to the taxpayer, we can boost travel, boost the economy and reduce the deficit. that's why this bill has such strong bipartisan support in the senate. it also has the support of numerous organizations like the u.s. travel association, the
u.s. conference of mayors, and the u.s. chamber of commerce. it has many newspaper endorsements. as you can see, newspapers in every part of the country support this legislation. i'll read just a few. "the sacramento bee" -- the country needs to reclaim its status as a global magnet for visitors even in the post/9/11 climate and congress can help by passing the travel promotion act by the end of this year. the "dallas morning news," september 6: "the travel promotion act is a sensible first step toward putting the welcome mat back on america's doorstep. the orlando sentinel "charging travelers $10 on promotion to bring in all that money makes sense." "detroit free press," september 5, 2008, "doesn't it make sense to encourage at no cost to taxpayers foreign visiters to come here and leave some money? there's no good reason not to pass this bill." and finally, i leave the best to
last, the "duluth news tribune," duluth, minnesota, may 18, 2009: "ideas to bolster economic recovery without plunging the nation any deeper into debt would be welcome by taxpayers from coast to coast." that is what we're talking about here, and i know firsthand how important it is, tourism, for the city of duluth t. had some very difficult economic times in the 1970's and 1980's. at one point it was so bad that there was a bill board that someone put up outside duluth said, "the last one to leave, please turn off the lights." that's what they were dealing w. and they bolstered their economy through tourism. i was just up there, we did a field hearing in there. they've actually seen an increase in their convention and business travel this year. maybe > a few people are going o places like duluth, for businesses that are cutting back a little. but the important part of this is that you have one town just like so many across the country that ha have benefited from tourism.
this is what we're talking about across the country. and one might wonder, why didn't this pass earlier, why haven't we been able to get this through? i really can't answer this question. it makes no sense to me. sometimes people don't want to talk about tourism because they think doesn't seem as important. but when one out of eight americans are employed in this business, it is important. this bill's important. i urge my colleagues to support it. i hope that we can get it through intact. i hope that we will have a minimum amount of amendments and that we can simple duly something good in a bipartisan way -- simply do something good in a bipartisan way that will help the jobs in america one out of eight people employed. thank you very much, madam president. i yield the floor, and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officerthe presidk will call the roll. quorum call: ms. klobuchar: madam president? i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: and i ask unanimous consent that the senate recess until 2:15 as under the previous order.