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House Passes Travel Promotion Bill, Supporting SW Michigan Tourism

Upton praises bill on House floor – Travel and tourism industry is vital to Southwest Michigan jobs and economy

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WASHINGTON, DC, July 22, 2014 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation this evening to boost travel and tourism in Southwest Michigan and communities across the country. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, has been a strong supporter of the bill – H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 – which reauthorizes Brand USA, a non-profit, private-public partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel to the United States. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that enacting H.R. 4450 would reduce the federal deficit by $231 million during the next decade. The bill, which was approved by Upton’s committee last week by a voice vote and today by a vote of 347 to 57, now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Upton took part in a Michigan Tourism Roundtable discussion in South Haven, Mich., earlier this month to highlight the importance of the travel and tourism industry to Southwest Michigan’s economy, as well as to point to the tremendous potential to grow this industry by attracting more overseas visitors. Tourists in the six counties (Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren) that make up the Sixth Congressional District in 2012 spent $977.8 million, which supported 9,323 jobs and a $203.2 million payroll, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Upton spoke on the House Floor today in strong support of H.R. 4450. The full text of his remarks as prepared for delivery follows:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 is an important bill that will boost jobs and the economy by promoting the U.S. as a world-class travel destination. The bill reauthorizes Brand USA and increases program accountability and transparency.

 In 2013, Brand USA generated an additional 1.1 million visitors to the U.S. and $3.4 billion in additional spending at U.S. businesses. This increase in spending triggered the creation of more than 53,000 American jobs and $2.2 billion in payroll.

Brand USA delivers all of these benefits to the U.S. economy at no cost to the American taxpayers.

Earlier this month, I held a roundtable in my district to discuss the tremendous benefits that tourism and this program contribute to the Southwest Michigan economy. The benefits, just in Southwest Michigan, are impressive with nearly $1 billion in spending supporting over 9,300 jobs and $200 million in payroll annually.  

I would like to thank Mr. Bilirakis and Mr. Welch for their leadership in spearheading this bipartisan bill and Mr. Terry for moving this bill through the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee. I urge all my colleagues to support this important jobs bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I yield back the balance of my time.

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