Tourism task force revived

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration on Monday revived a dormant interagency task force on tourism and announced it would waive entrance fees at federal recreation lands on the Veterans Day weekend as a way to bolster the hard-hit travel industry.

''This administration is committed to getting rid of the terrorists and bringing back the tourists,'' Commerce Secre-tary Don Evans declared at the first meeting of the reconstituted Tourism Policy Council.

He and the secretaries of interior, labor, transportation and state serve on a panel created in 1981 to coordinate the more than 170 government programs scattered among 30 federal agencies devoted to promoting tourism.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings, airlines, hotels and other travel-related industries have announced thousands of layoffs as Americans and foreigners have cut back on travel.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said the government was suspending entrance fees during the Nov. 10-12 Veterans Day weekend in an effort to boost travel to the national parks and other federal recreation areas.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Linda Conlin said the Cabinet task force had produced no specific new recommendations at Monday's meetings.

She also said the administration has no plans to reopen the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration, which the government closed in early 1996 as part of the effort to eliminate unnecessary agencies.

Rather than boosting spending on advertising to attract foreign travelers, she said, the administration believes it is more important to support efforts in Congress to upgrade airport security.

''We need to send a strong message that measures are being taken to increase safety. That will do more than advertising dollars,'' Conlin said.


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