Lobby effort will use isle tourism data
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Oahu's sagging numbers of international visitors are being used in a national lobbying effort for a bill backing a program to attract more overseas visitors to the United States.
Since 2001, Honolulu's international visitor count has dropped 21 percent, according to federal data being cited to promote the Travel Promotion Act of 2007.
Versions of the legislation are pending before subcommittees in the U.S. Senate and House.
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The Travel Industry Association is using Honolulu's decline in foreign visitor traffic as part of the trade group's lobbying for federal legislation to ease U.S. access for overseas visitors.
The weak dollar has made America a bargain for travelers from Canada and Europe, but since 9/11 once-strong international visitor destination cities like Honolulu have experienced dwindling international arrivals.
Visitor traffic to Honolulu from international source markets like Japan, Europe and other Asia, has been down by 21 percent since the terrorist attacks in 2001, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.
Rex Johnson, executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, has joined other travel leaders in Washington, D.C. to testify in favor of the Travel Promotion Act of 2007. Versions of the legislation are pending before subcommittees in the U.S. Senate and House.
TIA has said that the bill, which would establish a nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign to welcome more visitors to the U.S., could potentially yield billions in new visitor spending and strengthen America's image abroad.
International visitors remain vital to the local travel industry, said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.
"It's important for the health of our market that we maintain a diverse portfolio of visitors," she said. "We need to develop other international markets like China and Korea, that's why this legislation is so important to us," she said.