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Senate passes tourism bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate has passed legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) that would revitalize federal efforts to attract more foreign tourists to the United States and counter the steep decline in international travel following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Tourism Promotion Act (S.1023) was passed 79-19. It is a bipartisan measure establishing a nonprofit Corporation for Travel Promotion to implement a nationally-coordinated travel promotion program. The mission to market the United States to international tourists is aimed at reversing the decline in foreign travel to the United States since 2001.

“I cosponsored this legislation because it offers the possibility of helping expand Mississippi’s growing tourism industry,” Cochran said. “By broadening the nation’s appeal abroad, this measure will give Mississippi an opportunity to attract more foreign visitors.”

The measure also establishes an Office of Travel Promotion within the Department of Commerce to coordinate with the federal departments of State and Homeland Security to improve the U.S. visa and entry process for foreign visitors, while maintaining border security.  The Congressional Budget Office has determined S.1023 will help reduce the federal deficit by almost $500 million over 10 years.

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