Last week's Winging It column reported on efforts by the travel industry to find funding to promote the United States better to foreign visitors, and help explain to would-be visitors how to meet entry requirements. The nation, it seems, has developed an unwanted reputation since 9/11 for some of the least-friendly welcomes at internatonal gateways for travelers from overseas.
Now the Travel Industries Association, representing 1,700 organizations and busineses, reports that Congress is moving ahead on legislation that sets up a public-private partnership to help with the effort. The private sector will contribute some funds and the rest will come from a $10 entry fee on visitors who don't already pay for a U.S. visa. The association says 50 senators and 245 House members now co-spnsor the legislation. It has been reported to the Senate floor and approved by a House subcommitte, with the House Commerce Committee expected to act this week. This kind of effort could help Philadelphia and any other city or region that wants to welcome more of those free-spending folks from overseas.