From the office of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R, Illinois 11th District)…
Legislation protects online consumers through improved hotel health and safety service transparency
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced the International Travelers Bill of Rights (ITBOR), H.R. 3241, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that helps consumers make informed decisions when booking travel online. U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Scott Brown (R-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Kerry (D-MA) last week introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, more than 30 million Americans traveled overseas in 2009. Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland each account for nearly one million international visits. Over 40 percent of travelers use a personal computer to get information about their trip.
“As international travel becomes more prevalent, it’s crucial that families have the information they need to ensure a safe trip,” Senator Kirk said. “This effort is inspired by the story of Nancy Midlock of Shorewood, Illinois, whose family suffered a great loss when her 8-year old son, Brent, died tragically while on vacation in Mexico. A family has the right to know if a hotel has access to critical emergency care before they book a trip. I’m grateful for the strong support we’ve received for this legislation in the Congress, and hope we can move quickly to help prevent future tragedies.”
“Over the years, we’ve seen increased danger in international travel. This legislation provides American travelers with up-to-date information to make safe and educated travel decisions,” Congressman Kinzinger said. “Ensuring that the State Department website has pertinent information for foreign travel will be immensely helpful. It has been an honor to work with the Midlock family from my district to draft legislation that will give travelers a better sense of the safest and most suitable destination for their trip.”
“I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan International Travelers Bill of Rights,” Senator Brown said. “When Maureen Webster of Woburn, Massachusetts, told me about the tragic death of her son, Nolan, I knew immediately that I needed to help. I believe that lives can be saved if consumers have the right information.”
“International travel should be an exciting adventure, not a health risk,” Senator Cardin said. “I support this bipartisan legislation because Americans traveling abroad should be well informed and well educated about their destinations before leaving the United States. The International Travelers Bill of Rights will help to protect American travelers, prevent tragic accidents and save lives.”
The bill requires travel website operators to inform travelers of the available onsite health and safety services when hotels are booked for abroad.
Any available information related to Department of State travel warnings, the availability of a nurse or physician on the premise, and the presence of a lifeguard on duty must be displayed by website operators.
Additionally, the Department of State is required to update the record of Deaths of US Citizens Abroad by Non-Natural Causes more frequently and with more details.
The International Travelers Bill of Rights includes key provisions to ensure the travel industry is not burdened with impractical regulations so that online travel websites can continue to provide the services travelers rely on. In addition, website operators will have one year to request and make available this information, and are protected from unfair lawsuits.