WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are floating a proposal to use the
federal aviation trust fund, which holds taxes on airline tickets,
as the vehicle for financing the U.S. National Tourism
The USNTO is a public/private-sector partnership created to
market the U.S. to inbound visitors, and industry groups have been
struggling to reach consensus on how Congress should pay its
Speaking here during the first legislative summit of the
American Hotel & Motel Association, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.),
cochairman of the House Tourism Caucus, suggested that the aviation
trust fund could be converted into an interest-bearing fund.
"Sweeping off the interest would be enough to pay for the
USNTO," he said. The fund is expected to have a $14 billion surplus
Foley said the proposal emerged from discussions with House
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
The proposal is likely to run into opposition from airline
groups, which have complained the fund is not being used properly
for aviation projects.
Previous legislation authorizing the government's participation
in USNTO will lapse in October unless a funding mechanism is
Following Foley's speech, AH&MA members spent the rest of
the day on Capitol Hill lobbying on various hotel industry