WESLEY CHAPEL — A group of travel and tourism leaders met Friday with U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, to discuss ways to bring more visitors to the Tampa Bay region.
Local travel leaders thanked Bilirakis for his support of the JOLT Act and discussed the importance of international and domestic travel to the region's economy.
The JOLT Act, or the Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to create jobs through increasing travel and reforming visa laws to make it easier for visitors from "safe" countries such as Brazil to enter the United States while maintaining national security.
"The average visitor from Brazil spends about $6,000," Bilirakis said.
The group also toured Saddlebrook Resort, which was where the closed-door roundtable was held. Media representatives were invited in after the event to ask questions.
Attendees included the U.S. Travel Association, Tampa International Airport, Saddlebrook Resort, Visit Tampa Bay, Pasco County Office of Tourism, Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Pasco County International Tourism Committee, Dade City Chamber of Commerce, Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and New Hampton Inn & Suites joined Bilirakis at the event. The meeting highlighted policies that the state's congressional delegation can support in Washington to encourage travel, welcome more visitors and generate economic activity at the local level.