WASHINGTON – The United States Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., yesterday to boost tourism revenue for rural small businesses. The “Tourism Promotion for Rural Small Businesses” amendment (S. Amdt. 2259) is part of the Agriculture Appropriations bill, which the Senate expects to pass this week.

“The tourism industry remains largely untapped for small rural firms, but while local customers may stop spending, tourists can bring in extra profits for businesses and sales tax for communities,” Sen. Landrieu said. “This amendment will help the Federal government coordinate their tourism promotion programs to ensure our tax dollars reach rural communities and the small farms and firms that can help pull America out of this recession.”

With one in every 18 Americans employed by the travel and tourism industry, tourism is fast becoming an important part of the U.S. economy. This is particularly true in rural communities where agri-tourism is a growing trend and small businesses would benefit from better access to broadband technology and other improvements to reduce geographic barriers to commerce. In these areas, family farms and rural businesses benefit from the increased profits and sales tax revenue that tourism brings, but the assistance programs for such businesses are spread amongst numerous federal agencies – including the Small Business Administration and Department of Agriculture.

This amendment would help to coordinate the various federal programs by requiring a Government Accountability Office report on developing the tourism potential of rural small businesses. In particular it would:

  • Identify existing federal programs that benefit small businesses in developing tourism marketing and tourism-related promotion plans in rural areas;
  • Identify existing federal programs that help rural small businesses obtain capital for starting or expanding businesses primarily serving tourists; and
  • Provide recommendations on improving existing programs or, if any, creating new programs that may benefit tourism in rural communities.