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US senators to weigh tourism troubles

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Written by editor

WASHINGTON — US senators have invited officials from Walt Disney resorts and Las Vegas to discuss ways to pump up US tourism amid a painful recession and flu-related travel fears, a lawmaker announc

WASHINGTON — US senators have invited officials from Walt Disney resorts and Las Vegas to discuss ways to pump up US tourism amid a painful recession and flu-related travel fears, a lawmaker announced Friday.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she and Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida will lead the Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, “Tourism In Troubled Times,” which is set for Wednesday.

Lawmakers and witnesses will take up “how best to increase US tourism during tough economic times by analyzing current trends, finding ways to better promote the US as a tourist destination,” Klobuchar’s office said.

Tourism in the United States generates roughly 10.3 billion dollars in yearly economic activity and accounts for more than 140,000 jobs, her office said in a statement.

But the industry has been hard-hit by the global economic downturn and more recently by travel worries tied to the outbreak of H1N1 influenza.

Scheduled witnesses include: Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Jay Witzel, the head of Carlson Hotels; Sam Gilliland, the top executive at Travelocity/Sabre; And Rossi Ralenkotter, who runs the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Other witnesses include a South Carolina tourism office and the owner of the Bavarian Inn Lodge, a Germany-themed Michigan resort that promises: “Step into the heart of Germany with your feet planted firmly in Michigan.”