House OKs tourism bill

A bill that would generate an estimated $400 million to promote travel to the United States passed the House on Wednesday.

The Travel Promotion Act passed 358-66, with support from all three Nevada representatives.

Under the legislation, a $10 fee would be added to visa applications and combined with private money from the hospitality industry. The revenue will be used to promote the United States as a tourism destination.

"The need for travel promotion has never been greater," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "As the recent vote of the International Olympic Committee demonstrated, the United States must invest in better explaining its security policies and attracting foreign travelers. The Travel Promotion Act is a 'win-win' for our economic and diplomatic efforts."

The conservative Club For Growth sent a statement urging Congress to reject the bill.

"This inefficient allocation of money would prevent tourists from spending that same money on shopping, food, and other expenses," the club's Web site said. "This fund would also put into place yet another private-public spending program that can be expanded and abused using tax dollars, much like what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

The Senate has passed similar legislation, but the bill needs to go back to the Senate for a final approval.

Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign support it.

After the House approval, Reps. Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley, both Democrats, sent statements praising the passage. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., was among the bill's co-sponsors, and a spokesman said he still supported it.

The U.S. Travel Association said the bill will create, "a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.