A new bill introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) seeks to promote tourism between the United States and Mexico.

The United States-Mexico Tourism Improvement Act of 2019  says a decline in Mexican visitors to the United States is "a critical economic trend given that Mexico is the biggest source if international visitors to the United States after Canada."

The bill comes at a time when border security is a highly politicized topic in the United States, with the Trump administration threatening to shut the border down and declaring a national emergency to get the funds to construct a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Also, Mexico has slashed funding originally intended to promote inbound tourism and is expected to close all international tourism offices in favor of a building a Yucatan rail line connecting tourist destinations. 

Mexican tourism to the U.S. peaked in 2016 at nearly 19 million visitors, or 24.9% of all visitors that year, according to the bill. Their spending totaled $20.3 billion, up 3% from 2015. But the number of Mexican visitors has declined since then, while overall international tourism to the U.S. has increased.

According to the bill, 2017 saw a 6.1% decline in Mexican visitors to the U.S. Monetarily, that equates to about $1.24 billion in revenue.

The bill charges the secretary of state with creating a strategy to deepen bilateral tourism with Mexico, improve third-party tourism to both countries with joint promotional efforts and expand the tourism industries in both countries through the High Level Economic Dialogue platform.  

The High Level Economic Dialogue platform was created under the Obama administration and seeks to strengthen the U.S. and Mexico's commercial and economic relationship.

The bill, introduced in the house in February, is cosponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Vincente Gonzalaez (D-Texas).

In a statement in its daily newsletter, ASTA said it intends to support the bill "given the critical role Mexico plays as a destination for U.S. travelers."

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