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GEORGETOWN, DE - Downstate Delaware businesses that rely on tourism received a major boost today. Senator Tom Carper announced that the General Service Administration will nearly double federal employees' per diem rate during stays in Sussex County for business, conferences, or conventions. Before the change, federal employees received nearly twice as much in reimbursements if they chose to stay in Ocean City, MD instead of southern Delaware. The change gives local Delaware business an edge in their competition with Maryland for federal travel dollars. "There was a serious inequity that penalized Delaware businesses. Despite some of their hotels being only a stone's throw away from ours, Maryland businesses were able to receive nearly twice the money per day from federal travelers," Carper said. "We were closed out. With this change, we've opened Delaware's doors for federal traveler's business." In a letter to GSA Administrator Stephen A. Perry on July 9, 2001, Carper wrote that the per diem situation was "neither fair nor logical." The Senator invited the administrator to a meeting down at Sussex County beaches to discuss the inequity. Before the meeting took place, the GSA raised the per diem for stays in Delaware. "As summer tourism season ends, I hope these new off-peak reimbursement rates help heat up our downstate economy," Carper said. "Our hotels are already crowded during the summer. This new rate should fill more rooms and restaurant tables off-season as well." PER DIEM REIMBURSEMENT TABLE: Previous Rate in Off-peak Season SUSSEX COUNTY $55 OCEAN CITY $69 Previous Rate in Peak Season SUSSEX COUNTY $73 OCEAN CITY $130 NEW Rate in Off-peak Season SUSSEX COUNTY$120 OCEAN CITY$59 NEW Rate in Peak Season SUSSEX COUNTY$120 OCEAN CITY $144