Bill Pushes $100 Mil. in Tourism Ads

WASHINGTON — Reflecting concern over the economy, a new bill was introduced last week in Congress that calls for the federal government to spend $100 million on advertising to promote travel and tourism.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., the money would be used for a matching-grant program. The initiative would allow states to receive 50 percent of what they spent on advertising through their travel and tourism offices in 1999 and 2000 for new ad efforts.

“The nation’s second-largest industry is hemorrhaging, and this may bring us one step closer to the cure,” Foley said in a statement. “We’re not just handing out blank checks — we’re investing in our nation.”

The bill is similar to the Tourism Revitalization and Valued Employee Labor Act of 2001, introduced Oct. 16 by Reps. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. [Adweek, Oct. 29]. But that effort calls for only $50 million to be spent on a national ad campaign over two years.

Advertising lobby groups consider the legislation worthwhile because it is designed to jump-start an anemic economy. “Advertising is the main engine that fuels the economy, and obviously the tourism and travel industries are suffering,” said Jeff Perlman, svp for government affairs, American Advertising Federation. “If anything can get people back in hotels and back at entertainment attractions, advertising will certainly be one of those tools.”

This year, the travel industry is expected to see a $43 billion loss

as more domestic and international travelers stay home in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Domestic travel is expected to decline by 3.5 percent, and a total of 453,500 jobs are expected to be lost by year’s end.