More than 70 U.S. companies and organizations--including meetings industry associations, convention and visitors bureaus, and hotels--signed a petition urging Congress to pass the Travel Promotion Act of 2007.

Sponsored by Sens. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 would establish a nonprofit Travel Promotion Corp. with a 14-member board consisting of representatives of states, the federal government, and the travel industry. The corporation would be authorized to promote international travel to the U.S. through advertising, outreach to trade shows, and other promotions. Efforts would be financed via the creation of a Travel Promotion Fund, initially financed by a $10 fee paid by overseas travelers from Visa Waiver countries.

"At no cost to the American taxpayer, the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 creates a true public-private partnership that can position the United States to welcome millions of additional visitors each year," said Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership, in a statement.

According to DAP, a coalition of leading hospitality industry companies, the U.S. has experienced a 17 percent decline in overseas travel since September 11, 2001, costing America an estimated $94 billion in lost visitor spending. The DAP believes the bill would result in 1.6 million new overseas visitors per year and place the U.S. on a level playing field with its global competitors, many of which spend millions of dollars recruiting visitors.

Among the organizations that signed the petition urging Congress to pass the bill are the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Expedia, American Express, American Hotel and Lodging Association, Hilton, Hyatt, Walt Disney Co., Meeting Professionals International, Greater Boston CVB, Philadelphia CVB, Professional Convention Management Association, Marriott International, and the Freeman Cos.

Read the letter and the list of signers.