Rosen-Led Bipartisan Travel And Tourism Legislation Would Establish First Federal Position To Coordinate U.S. Travel And Tourism Policy, Require National Strategy
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, announced that her bipartisan Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act is included in the government funding package that is expected to pass the House of Representatives and Senate and be signed into law. This legislation, introduced with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), will strengthen the U.S. travel and tourism industry by creating the position of a new Assistant Secretary of Commerce of Travel and Tourism to coordinate tourism strategy across the federal government. There currently isn’t anyone in the federal government responsible for developing and coordinating this national strategy, which this bill will establish for the first time ever.
In addition, this bipartisan legislation would formally authorize the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, collect data on domestic travel and tourism, mandate the development of a national travel and tourism strategy every ten years, and report on the effects of the pandemic on the travel and tourism industry. This legislation has been endorsed by more than a dozen leading Nevada-based and national groups, including the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Nevada Resort Association, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the US Travel Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the American Gaming Association, the Global Business Travel Association, and the American Society of Travel Advisors.
“Travel and tourism is a key economic driver for Nevada, and one of my top priorities in the Senate has been making sure we support this industry’s comeback to its full potential,” said Senator Rosen. “My bipartisan bill will create the first-ever Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism position to coordinate a whole-of-government tourism strategy and take a number of other actions to help revive and strengthen this crucial sector of our economy. I’m glad to see this legislation included in the government funding package and now on its way to becoming law.”
“While domestic and leisure travel has made significant progress, we still remain behind pre-pandemic levels and need additional support,” said Steve Hill, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Senator Rosen’s bipartisan Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act takes important steps to bring the future of travel and tourism into focus, especially through the vitally important creation of an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism position to oversee a whole-of-government strategy for tourism.”
“The tourism industry was one of the sectors most impacted by the pandemic, and it still hasn’t fully recovered,” said Charles Harris, President and CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. “Senator Rosen’s bipartisan Omnibus Tourism and Travel Act would help bring this industry back to its full potential and will also sustain the future of travel to and throughout the U.S. I’m glad to see this bill is included in the end-of-year government funding package, and I thank Senator Rosen for her work to see this through.”
“While the travel and tourism industry is faring better today than we were during the pandemic, we remain below many key economic indicators and continue to have the nation’s highest unemployment rate,” said Virginia Valentine, President & CEO of the Nevada Resort Association. “Senator Rosen’s Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act would provide much-needed resources to help the industry bring back more jobs and restore the economic activity our communities depend on. By working to include this bill in the government funding package, Senator Rosen is providing timely relief to the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans working in the travel and hospitality industry.”
“Travel Nevada fully supports the Omnibus Tourism and Travel Act, which will continue to reinforce the domestic tourism economy and create a much-needed office of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism to guide long term strategy,” said Brenda Scolari, Director of Travel Nevada.
“This is a great outcome for travelers and the travel industry alike as the U.S. now joins every G20 nation in prioritizing the travel experience,” said Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act enhances federal leadership for the travel industry by establishing a new Assistant Secretary to elevate travel issues and the industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy. U.S. Travel thanks Senators Rosen, Wicker, and Sullivan and Representative Titus for their efforts to include the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act in the FY23 Omnibus.”
“The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and our members are grateful to Chairs Rosen and Cantwell, and Ranking Members Wicker and Scott for championing the bipartisan Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act in the FY2023 appropriations bill,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “The aptly named “Tour Bus” legislation contains commonsense initiatives to help hotel employees, small businesses, and the lodging industry to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical components include promoting America as a destination for international travelers, establishing a new top tourism position at the Commerce Department, and commissioning a comprehensive study of the pandemic’s effects on the travel and tourism industry. Each of these initiatives will establish new opportunities for industry growth, job creation, and positive economic expansion in local communities. We appreciate our congressional leaders coming together to pass these important measures into law.”
“Business travel is an important driver for business and keeping economies moving worldwide,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the Global Business Travel Association. “Even as we’re seeing strides in the return of business travel, the industry continues to need additional support and resources to continue its recovery. As such, GBTA supports the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act as a positive step in restoring global business travel and meetings in the U.S. and abroad.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, travel advisors had a front-row seat to the scattered nature of federal oversight of the travel industry,” said Eben Peck, Executive Vice President for Advocacy at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “Contending with numerous federal agencies and ever-changing rules regarding travel while struggling to keep their businesses alive put unnecessary and avoidable hardships on travel advisors. We thank Sens. Rosen, Wicker and Sullivan and Reps. Titus and Case for recognizing this and working to create a high-level leadership position within the federal government focused on travel industry concerns to protect the industry from unnecessary setbacks due to conflicting and confusing policy decisions in the future.”
Senators Rosen and Wicker introduced the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act with a large group of bipartisan co-sponsors, including Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Rick Scott (R-FL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Angus King (I-ME). A portion of the package was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who alongside Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) helped advance the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act in that chamber. This bill would designate a new Assistant Secretary of Commerce of Travel and Tourism to coordinate strategy across the federal government. The legislation requires the Assistant Secretary to:
- Develop a national travel and tourism strategy every ten years;
- Set a national goal for the number of international visitors to the U.S.;
- Increase and facilitate international business travel to the U.S., including by facilitating large conferences and exhibitions, emphasizing rural destinations, supporting ecotourism, and facilitating sports and recreation events and activities in the U.S.;
- Enhance domestic tourism, both for business and leisure;
- Develop recovery strategies for the travel and tourism industry both in response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of other unpredictable catastrophic events; and
- Work with the Department of Labor to improve travel and tourism workforce data.
Senator Rosen has been a leader in fighting to restore the travel and tourism industry to its full potential. Tourism is one of Nevada’s key industries and employs nearly 350,000 Nevadans. Rosen was part of a bipartisan group that negotiated the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, where she specifically helped write the section of the bill that included more than $58 million in funding for Nevada airports. This also included her legislation requiring the National Travel and Tourism Infrastructure Strategic Plan be updated to develop an immediate-term and long-term strategy for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other agencies to use infrastructure investments to revive the travel and tourism industries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.