USTA urges Senate to help restart widespread travel

In its first-ever hearing, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, a representative of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) urged that strategies should be enacted to restart widespread travel.

In the “The State of Travel and Tourism During COVID,” Tori Emerson Barnes, EVP, public affairs and policy, USTA, joined three other expert witnesses representing the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, MGM Resorts International and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in sharing testimony relating to the impact of the global pandemic on the travel economy.

U.S. Travel identified four key priorities to restore travel demand, accelerate rehiring in the travel sector and shorten the timeline for recovery:

  1. The safe and quick reopening of international travel;
  2. Approval of clear guidance by the CDC to safely restart professional meetings and events;
  3. Enactment by Congress of the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act to spur incremental demand and accelerate rehiring; and
  4. The provision of temporary emergency funding by Congress for Brand USA to welcome visitors back to the U.S.

Specific policies should also be implemented to improve the industry’s long-term competitiveness and ensure we come back stronger and better than ever, such as:

  1. Enacting the Visit America Act to elevate permanent leadership in federal government on travel policies; and
  2. Investing in repairing and modernizing travel infrastructure.

“We are thankful to Chairwoman [Jacky] Rosen (D-NV) and Ranking Member [Rick] Scott (R-FL) for bringing needed attention to the economic importance of a travel recovery in the U.S. and for working to establish this key new subcommittee,” said Roger Dow, president/CEO USTA. “As was made clear in today’s hearing, a full U.S. economic recovery won’t happen without the reopening of travel. The travel and tourism industry accounted for a staggering 65% of U.S. jobs lost last year, so restoring this sector needs to be a national priority.”

It is fitting that the new tourism subcommittee also have jurisdiction over trade promotion, because international traveler spending in the U.S. counts as an export and was the country’s No. 2 industry export prior to the pandemic, according to the association.

“We need the federal government to enact the right policies to ensure all sectors of travel can recover as quickly as possible,” said Barnes. “There is a great deal at stake, and any delay in restarting widespread travel will only harm the economy further. A U.S. economic rebound depends upon all of this.”

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