From Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL, 1st District):
I was pleased to be selected as co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus for the 112th Congress. This new post will allow our state and region to have a greater voice in shaping federal policy affecting a major part of our economy. South Alabama is home to a wide variety of industries, most recently steel processing and military ship building have added to our economic landscape. As we seek to grow and diversify our area economy, there is no escaping the fact that tourism is and will continue to be a significant part of our livelihood. If you need proof, look to last year’s BP oil spill. The ecological disaster in the Gulf also created an economic disaster on shore, driving away nearly one million tourists from South Alabama during the height of the summer season. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the oil spill, business all across the economic spectrum are still reeling from the loss of tourist dollars last year. Even local governments and school systems have suffered from a decline in tax revenues that tourism helps generate.
According to the Alabama Tourism Department, tourist and travel spending in Southwest Alabama totaled $3.2 billion during 2009 – one third of the state’s total tourist dollars. The Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus advocates for legislation promoting the tourism industry and educates other Members of Congress about the importance of tourism to our national economy. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that tourism and travel contribute more than $700 billion to the national economy and employ more than 7.7 million people. I look forward to working with Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair Rep. Sam Farr, D-California for the next two years in building on the success of our tourism industry while increasing awareness of its vital role in local job creation.
Congressman Jo Bonner