WASHINGTON —The newly formed U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion, led by Chairwoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ranking Member Rick Scott (R-FL), held its first-ever hearing this week, entitled “The State of Travel and Tourism During COVID.”
U.S. Travel Association’s Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice-president of Public Affairs and Policy, 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 re-hiring in the travel sector and shorten the timeline for recovery:
- Approval of clear guidance by the CDC to safely re-start professional meetings and events;
- Enactment by Congress of the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act to spur incremental demand and accelerate rehiring; and
- 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:
- Enacting the Visit America Act to elevate permanent leadership in federal government on travel policies; and
- Investing in repairing and modernizing travel infrastructure.
“We are thankful to Chairwoman Rosen and Ranking Member Scott for bringing needed attention to the economic importance of a travel recovery in the U.S. and for working to establish this key new sub-committee,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
“As was made clear in today’s hearing, a full U.S. economic recovery won’t happen without the re-opening of travel. The travel-and-tourism industry accounted for a staggering 65 per cent of U.S. jobs lost last year, so restoring this sector needs to be a national priority,” Dow added.
It is fitting that the new tourism sub-committee also has jurisdiction over trade promotion, because international traveller spending in the U.S. counts as an export and was the country’s number-two industry export prior to the pandemic.
“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 re-starting widespread travel will only harm the economy further. A U.S. economic rebound depends upon all of this.”