The U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow responds to today’s passage of a multiyear highway and surface transportation bill:
“As the country’s first long-term transportation package in a decade, the Fixing America’s Surface and Transportation Act will enact infrastructure improvements with profound impacts on multiple levels of the U.S. economy. We applaud members of both chambers for coming to agreement on this much-needed legislation, which acknowledges both the necessity of a strong national infrastructure and the importance of travel and tourism to America’s continued economic recovery and growth.
“We are particularly grateful that the final text of this legislation retains measures backed by the U.S. travel community. We strongly support the provisions to foster cooperation between state and local transportation planners and travel leaders, as well as the creation of a national commission on travel infrastructure.
“Eight out of every 10 trips in America—for both business and leisure—are taken by car, bus, or other road transportation. Focusing surface transportation resources to support the U.S. travel and tourism sector ensures the continued thriving of an industry that creates jobs and economic activity in every corner of the country. Including the travel community in the long-term transportation planning process will ensure that federal dollars are invested wisely and in a way that will benefit America’s infrastructure and economy in the years to come.
"One aspect of the passed bill does trouble us: the continued congressional trend toward raising travel levies to pay for unrelated programs—in this case, a hike in the Customs and Border Protection fee to offset outlays on the surface side. Principled user fees are sound, efficient policy, but this does not pass the litmus test of a fee that materially benefits the system on which it is levied.
“But, ultimately, with the passage of this legislation, lawmakers have demonstrated an eagerness to not only improve how Americans travel, but to support an industry that serves as the backbone of many state economies. An efficient, well-maintained surface transportation system is essential to America remaining a top travel destination, and for retaining our place as a leader in the global economy.”
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.3 trillion in economic output and supports 15.3 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit www.ustravel.org.