Press Release

Comprehensive Immigration Reform could “JOLT” Tampa Bay economy

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Tampa, Aug 21, 2013 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL) and Tampa Bay’s tourism leaders today rallied at Busch Gardens around the pro-travel provisions of comprehensive immigration reform. The JOLT Act (Jobs Originated through Launching Travel) is part of the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill and the JOLT Act’s provisions are estimated to facilitate the arrival of nearly 100 million visitors by 2020 and support 1.3 million new domestic jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
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TAMPA, FL – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL) and Tampa Bay’s tourism leaders today rallied at Busch Gardens around the pro-travel provisions of comprehensive immigration reform. The JOLT Act (Jobs Originated through Launching Travel) is part of the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill and the JOLT Act’s provisions are estimated to facilitate the arrival of nearly 100 million visitors by 2020 and support 1.3 million new domestic jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association. 

“Comprehensive immigration reform also means modernizing and streamlining our travel policies to better attract global tourists who will spend their leisure money in the United States and support our economy and create more jobs,” Rep. Castor, citing the JOLT Act’s provision to expand the Visa Waiver Program to countries such as Israel, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. “By courting international events, building new attractions and launching more international flights out of our airport, Tampa Bay continues to be proactive in attracting more tourists. But the provisions in the JOLT Act are needed to facilitate international travel so our community can enjoy the highest potential of our tourism economy.”

“We are all in the tourism business together, and international travel is a vital component to the economic health of Busch Gardens® Tampa, as well as the Tampa Bay region. We must continue the momentum in making it easier for international tourists to come to our destination, and capitalize on the amazing accomplishments that we’ve celebrated, including direct flights on Edelweiss Airlines and Copa Airlines,” said Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean.

Rep. Castor highlighted the following tourism statistics:

•  2012 set a record with more than 1 billion people worldwide who traveled outside their home countries last year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

•  Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program could increase annual visitation by more than 600,000, add more than $7 billion to the U.S. economy and support more than 40,000 U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

•  More than 89 million travelers visited Florida and they supported more than 1 million jobs, according to Visit Florida, and this job growth is poised to grow with the JOLT Act.

•  In 2011, visitor spending in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area was $6.75 million supporting 84,000 jobs, according to Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

•  In 2012, visitor spending was $3.75 million in Hillsborough County and supported 66,806 jobs, according to Visit Tampa Bay.

Rep. Castor was also recently on MSNBC to emphasize the link between tourism/immigration and job creation. View video:  http://youtu.be/QJqqkCjLNqg 

“The JOLT Act has some lofty goals to make travel convenient,” Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada said. “We will lose tourists to other destinations if we don’t get ahead of the curb.”

Maryann Ferenc, who is a small business owner in Tampa and was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Department of Commerce Travel & Tourism Board, underscored the importance of the JOLT Act in creating jobs. “The tourism industry means quality jobs and we in the small business and tourism industries – in Florida and across the country – are looking forward to seeing the JOLT Act pass.” 

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