The US could receive its first boost in tourism funding for years if the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) is passed by the Senate as expected.

The much vaunted act has been beset by delays since it was first raised in 2008, but US Travel Association president Roger Dow is confident it will be passed by the end of the year. It passed through the House of Representatives last week with more than 300 votes in favour.

The TPA will see a $10 levy charged on the new ESTA electronic visa waiver system, to be matched by private sector partners. It is expected to raise $200 million for tourism promotion in key and emerging markets, although it remains an unpopular move with the UK trade.

If the bill is passed by the Senate as expected, a board of 12 industry partners will be selected by the US Secretary of Commerce, to be drawn from the accommodation, airline, theme park and attraction sectors.

“It will be a public-private partnership, so the eventual board will have to decide how the money is spent,” said Dow.

Funding will be available from 2011 at the earliest, he added, to be split proportionally among its largest visitor markets.

ESTA – the electronic system for travel authorisation – was due to come into force this year but was delayed to allow airlines and consumers more time to comply with the online registration. It will eventually replace the I-94 green card, but both systems are likely to remain in use until the end of 2010.

BLOB: The US Travel Association is the new name for the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).