AdventureTravelNews

Congressman Farr’s TRIP Act Expected to Boost U.S. Domestic Tourism

Written By:
Christopher Doyle

According to OpenCongress.org, which tracks legislation introduced to the U.S. Congress, Representative Sam Farr (D-California), co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus,  introduced on Feb. 24, 2010, H. R. 4676, the Travel Regional Investment Partnership (TRIP) Act, which will provide US$50 million (over a five year period) in matching grants to destination marketing organizations and their strategic partners.

To direct the Secretary of Commerce (The Honorable Gary Locke, former Governor of Washington State) to establish a competitive grant program to promote domestic regional tourism.

Excerpts follow from the bill as introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    • (1) The importance of travel and tourism cannot be overstated: travel and tourism employs America.

      (2) Approximately 8,300,000 domestic jobs depend on the travel and tourism industry.

      (3) The United States travel and tourism industry is worth more than $691,000,000,000 annually in direct spending, of which more than 85 percent is the result of domestic travel. Including indirect spending, such industry tops $1,200,000,000,000 in spending.

      (4) The travel and tourism industry accounts for 2.6 percent of GDP, nearly four times that of the automotive industry.

      (5) Domestic employment related to the travel and tourism industry cannot be outsourced to other countries.

      (6) The current economic downturn has created the most difficult economic environment for the domestic travel and tourism industry since the period following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

      (7) The travel and tourism industry has contracted by nearly $130,000,000,000 in 2009 alone. The domestic tourism economy has fallen by nearly 4.5 percent during 2009, twice the rate of the overall economy of the United States.

      (8) Domestic spending on travel and tourism has been in decline since the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008, while employment in the travel and tourism industry has been falling since the second quarter of such year.

      (9) Public-private partnerships have been underutilized in the promotion of travel and tourism and are a dynamic tool in creating new domestic tourism markets and promoting domestic regional tourism growth.

  • Congress finds the following:

SEC. 3. DOMESTIC REGIONAL TOURISM GRANT PROGRAM.

(a) Establishment by Secretary of Commerce- The Secretary of Commerce shall establish a competitive grant program, administered by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, to promote domestic regional tourism growth and new domestic tourism market creation.

(b) Range of Grant Monetary Amounts- No grant shall be less than $100,000 or more than $1,000,000.

(c) Grantee Eligibility Requirements

    • (A) A Convention and Visitors Bureau.

      (B) A partnership between a State or local government and a local tourism entities.

        • (I) the specific tourist entities that such government has partnered with in order promote tourism within the relevant domestic region; and

          (II) the details of the partnership and specific information as to how such partnership will increase regional tourism.

      • (i) a description of the tourist promotion activities that the grant will fund; and

        (ii) in the case of a partnership between a State or local government and local tourism entities–

    • (A) SUBMISSION- An eligible entity seeking a grant under this section shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such form, and with such information and assurances as the Secretary may require.

      (B) CONTENTS- Such application shall include–

  • (1) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES- The following entities are eligible for a grant under this section for the purposes of promoting domestic regional tourism growth and new domestic tourism market creation:

    (2) APPLICATION PROCESS-

(d) Matching Requirement-

    (1) NON-FEDERAL FUNDS- As a condition of receipt of a grant under this section, the grant recipient shall provide, either directly or through donations from public or private entities, non-Federal matching funds, in cash or in-kind, in an amount equal to the amount of the grant.

    (2) SPECIAL RULE FOR IN-KIND DONATIONS- Of the amount of non-Federal matching funds required under paragraph (1), not more than 25 percent shall be provided through in-kind contributions.

(e) Reports- Not later than 6 months after the end of each fiscal year in which grants were awarded by the Secretary under this section, the Secretary shall submit a report to Congress on–

    (1) travel-generated expenditures;

    (2) travel-generated tax receipts; and

    (3) travel-generated employment.

(f) Definitions- In this section:

    (1) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Commerce.

    (2) LOCAL TOURIST ENTITY- The term ‘local tourist entity’ means any public or private sector business engaged in tourism-related activities.

(g) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated $10,000,000 for each of the first 5 fiscal years that begin after the date of enactment of this section for grants under this section, and such amounts appropriated shall remain available until expended.

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Editor’s Note: Track details at http://www.opencongress.org and track H.R. 4676 – The newly introduced (Feb. 24, 2010, in the U.S. House of Representatives) legislation follows in the footsteps of another bill, the Travel Promotion Act, as reported by CNN. Preliminarily, the ATTA views these two legislative concepts promising for the adventure tourism industry, especially if these efforts contribute also to economically depressed, yet culturally and environmentally rich areas in the rural United States.

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