U.S. CVB At Least 2 Years Away

An article was just published in the recent Meeting News Magazine discussing the recent law signed by Obama in March, establishing a national convention and visitors bureau dubbed the Corporation for Travel Promotion.  This act will not likely take shape for at least 2 years.

Up until now, the U.S. has never really promoted tourism on a national level for one can only assume they felt it wasn't necessary.  However many other countries are light years ahead in touting their tourism offerings such as Australian Tourism, Canadian Tourism Commission and Visit Britain just to name a few.

This is a first step in what can be a very large boost to the meetings and tourism industries in the U.S.

See article below:
April 23, 2010By Jay Boehmer

Set into law by the stroke of President Barack Obama's pen in March, the Travel Promotion Act will begin to take shape in the coming months with the establishment of a national convention and visitors bureau and the enactment of that entity's primary funding mechanism, a new fee on some inbound visitors. However, that new visitors bureau, dubbed the Corporation for Travel Promotion, is unlikely to be a fully operating concern for at least two years, according to rollout estimates.

According to a "best-case" timeline anticipated by the U.S. Travel Association—one of the Travel Promotion Act's chief cheerleaders and consultant to the government on the project—the first step is the appointment of the Corporation for Travel Promotion's board of directors, a task expected to take "several months" from the March 4 passage date. Appointed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the board will comprise executives representing seven travel industry sectors, from hotels and aviation to attractions and restaurants.

The Corporation for Travel Promotion's mission is to promote the United States to "travelers, travel agents, tour operators, meeting planners, foreign governments, travel media and other international stakeholders" through advertising, outreach and education.

To fund the startup, the Corporation for Travel Promotion will gain $10 million in its first year through a new fee on inbound travelers from visa-waiver countries. U.S. Travel expects fee collection to go live within eight to 12 months.

The Department of Homeland Security has a new mechanism to collect the $10 from some overseas visitors through its Electronic System for Travel Authorization, a system mandated this year for U.S.-bound travelers from visa-waiver countries to submit biographic data. Use of that system now is free, but as soon as this year, some of those inbound travelers could be subject to the new fee "once every two years," the U.S. Travel Association said.

Though half of the program's funds would come from that new visitor fee, the Corporation for Travel Promotion also would rely on private industry donations and partnerships, according to the act signed by Obama.

"Private sector companies and organizations that would benefit from increased international travel will be asked to make in-kind or cash contributions to the Corporation for Travel Promotion," U.S. Travel said, noting those contributions would be voluntary.

Commencing in the second year of the program, every voluntary dollar donated will be matched two-for-one from funds collected through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, though the bill caps at $100 million annually the amount funded from the foreign traveler fee. However, effective for the program's third year and beyond, the government will match all voluntary contributions one-for-one, using funds collected through ESTA.

Originally published April 12, 2010