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Memorandum of Disapproval of the National Tourism Policy Bill

December 24, 1980

I am withholding my approval from enrolled bill S. 1097, "The National Tourism Policy Act."

Among other provisions, this bill would establish a United States Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA) as an independent agency, create a Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and abolish the United States Travel Service of the Department of Commerce.

My Administration has proposed that the Federal government's role concentrate on development and coordination of policies conducive to tourism, collection of information, and selected promotional activities. Because tourism is an integral part of other trade promotion activities, we also recommended to Congress that the Travel Service be incorporated into the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, where overseas tourism activities would be carried out by the Foreign Commercial Service.

By contrast, S. 1097 would separate the government's travel and tourism activities from other international trade functions. This is a seriously flawed management approach. The establishment of independent agencies to promote individual aspects of international trade would only impede the efficient management and coordination of important related functions.

Furthermore, the bill would create an agency not only independent of a Cabinet department but also virtually independent of Presidential direction. The principal initial function of the USTTA would be to develop a detailed and comprehensive tourism development plan, including estimates of funding and personnel needed to carry it out. The plan would be submitted by April 15, 1982 to the House and Senate Commerce Committees. Under the bill, that plan and any budget requests or legislative recommendations by the USTTA would have to be submitted concurrently to the President and Congress, and no Federal officer or agency would be permitted to review or approve them before their submission to Congress. I consider this to be an unacceptable derogation of the President's executive authority and responsibility.

In addition, the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board—14 of the 17 members of which would be senior executives of the travel and tourism industry—would be given extraordinary powers of oversight. It would monitor the activities of the USTTA and report to Congress on the agency's preliminary plans and final budget requests. The composition of the Board and its functions would almost certainly ensure that the USTTA would be more responsive to special industry interests than to the need for a coordinated Federal approach that will balance the needs of tourism against other national priorities.

Finally, the USTTA would be authorized to establish branch offices in foreign countries, consult with foreign governments, and represent U.S. travel and tourist interests at international meetings, conferences, and expositions. In this way, the USTTA would become an independent foreign office in miniature. It would be highly undesirable to grant such an agency the ability and mission to deal with foreign governments directly, and independently of the Department of State. The proper conduct of foreign relations requires that the central role be played by the Department of State, under the direction of the President, and that contacts with foreign governments by Federal agencies be undertaken only in close cooperation with the Department of State.

For these reasons, and because S. 1097 is deficient or objectionable in several other respects, I am withholding my approval from the bill.

JIMMY CARTER

The White House,

December 24, 1980.

Note: The text of the memorandum of disapproval was released at Plains, Ga.

Jimmy Carter, Memorandum of Disapproval of the National Tourism Policy Bill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250784

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