CARSON CITY — Rep. Joe Heck told a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday that he is working to increase overseas travel and tourism to the United States by speeding up the processing of tourist visas.

Heck, representing Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in Southern Nevada, said the Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act would help the United States capture a larger share of the foreign tourism market.

Between 2000 and 2010, the global long-haul travel market grew by 40 percent, yet the U.S. share of the market has fallen from 17 to 12 percent because of an outdated, inefficient tourist visa application process, he said.

"Nevada has so much to offer tourists and business travelers," Heck said in his 20-minute address. "From Lake Tahoe to the Hoover Dam, our attractions are second to none. But an outdated, bureaucratic visa processing system is actually preventing us from realizing our full potential."

The act, introduced last month with Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, would provide for faster visa processing without reducing or eliminating security reviews, Heck said.

The JOLT Act could attract as many as 98 million more visitors to the United States, create 1 million American jobs, and generate as much as $859 billion in revenue by 2020, he said.

Also, the Nevada delegation is working to complete the Interstate 11 corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas, Heck said. Efforts to include the corridor in a federal transportation bill for future federal funding were successful, Heck said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at or 775-687-3901.