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Hawaii could see a surge in international tourists following the signing of the first ever national travel promotion and communications program by President Obama. The act which was just signed into law on March 4 is in response to increasing concern that the United States is lagging in the global travel market. For example, in 2009 2.4 million fewer visitors from overseas came to the US as compared to 2000.
Government officials believe that the law will balance out the downward travel trend to The United States by creating a campaign to showcase the US as a premier destination and to reassure visitors that security policies are in place to protect the airports which has been a concern for many people traveling to the United States. Over the years many changes have been made to travel security policies to foreign visitors.
The signing of this act should have positive effects on Hawaii tourism. In a statement from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, this law will boost travel to the Hawaiian Islands and help the overall economy.
International visitors are a significant part of Hawaii’s visitor industry, accounting for almost 33 percent of Hawaii’s visitor arrivals and contributing $3.7 billion in expenditures. This new legislation will contribute to our efforts to attract more international visitors to the islands,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of HTA. “We appreciate the efforts of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation for their hard work to get this bill passed,” he added.
The Travel Promotion Act is modeled after successful state-level initiatives and is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. The fee is collected once every two years in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.