Murkowski Co-Sponsors Legislation to Boost Alaska’s Tourism Industry

Alaska Welcomed 1.96M Visitors Last Year, Senator Sees Room to Improve

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski and 24 other Senators co-sponsored bipartisan legislation this week aimed at boosting international tourism to the United States. S.2250, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act, would reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States, through 2020.

“People around the world are drawn to our state’s beauty and culture, and our tourism industry made a $3.9 billion impact last year alone – but I believe we can still do more,” said Murkowski.  “A strong visitor industry means more jobs, more business for local communities and a stronger economy. This legislation is not only great for those who work in the industry, but for the Alaskan localities that welcome tourists.”

Brand USA is funded by international visitors and private contributions – not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions. The rest of the budget – up to a maximum of $100 million – is funded by a nominal fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Brand USA can only collect up to $100 million from ESTA fees paid by foreign travelers visiting the U.S., and amounts collected in excess of the cap are returned to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the deficit.

The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobachar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). It is cosponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Harry Reid (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), David Vitter (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MI).