NHDP - ICYMI: Former NH tourism leaders question Brown vote

ICYMI: Union Leader: Former NH tourism leaders question Brown vote


Key Point: "Two former state leaders who oversaw travel and tourism development in New Hampshire question why Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown cast a vote against federal legislation promoting travel to the U.S.
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"Shaheen, as well as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), are among the co-sponsors of the Senate version of the 'Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act.' Supporters say Brand USA generated 1.1 million additional international visitors who spent an estimated $3.4 billion in 2013, and they cite Congressional Budget Office data that the act would reduce the deficit by $231 million over 10 years."


Former NH tourism leaders question Brown vote
dtuohy@unionleader.com
 
Two former state leaders who oversaw travel and tourism development in New Hampshire question why Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown cast a vote against federal legislation promoting travel to the U.S.
 
George Bald and Sean O’Kane, who both served as commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, criticized Brown's vote on a bill that led to the establishment of the Travel Promotion Act. President Obama signed it into law on March 4, 2010.
 
The act established the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a non-profit public-private entity known as Brand USA, which is dedicated to promoting travel to the U.S. It assesses a $10 fee on international tourists entering the country.
 
The former DRED commissioners, in separate interviews, emphasized the importance of travel and tourism to New Hampshire’s economy.
 
"It is hard to understand because most countries have some kind of promotion for tourism," Bald said of Brown's vote. "It’s important to all of New England, but especially to New Hampshire, where tourism is the second largest industry."
 
Bald has participated in campaign events for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to criticize Brown earlier this year. He was first nominated commissioner of DRED, which includes the Office of Travel and Tourism Development, in 1998. Shaheen, then governor, nominated him.
 
O’Kane recalled that he applauded the Travel Promotion Act when it was introduced because he believed it put the U.S. on a more level playing field with international travel and tourism interests.
 
O’Kane is a former manager of the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester and a past chairman of the state’s Lodging & Restaurant Association. He succeeded Bald as DRED chief in 2004. He was nominated by Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican.
 
The travel promotion makes sense to public and private partners in tourism development, he said. "I could never understand what the objection was," he said.
 
The Travel Promotion Act was passed as an amendment to H.R. 1299, which involved administrative technical corrections pertaining to the U.S. Capitol Police. The roll call was 78-18. Brown, then a new senator from Massachusetts, voted nay, as did U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). Was this part of a procedural fight? Were the two opposing another part of the legislation, unrelated to the Travel Promotion Act? 
 
The Brown campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
That session, Shaheen co-sponsored a similar bill, which had 53 co-sponsors, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA).
 
The Travel Promotion Act is up for reauthorization this year. Shaheen, as well as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), are among the co-sponsors of the Senate version of the "Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act." Supporters say Brand USA generated 1.1 million additional international visitors who spent an estimated $3.4 billion in 2013, and they cite Congressional Budget Office data that the act would reduce the deficit by $231 million over 10 years.
 
The conservative Club for Growth has criticized the Travel Promotion Act and opposes its reauthorization.
 
In a "vote alert" on its website, Club for Growth described it as follows: “This bill reauthorizes the Corporation for Travel Promotion (a.k.a. BrandUSA), a slush fund promoted and administered by companies in the tourism industry that are wrongly using the taxing authority of the federal government to help finance their profits."

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