U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, introduced legislation Oct. 22 that will help improve tourism across the country by studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry and identifying policy recommendations to assist the hard-hit industry. The Protecting Tourism in the United States Act directs the U.S. Department of Commerce, in consultation with the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and the heads of other federal agencies, to study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on different sectors of the travel and tourism industry.
The bill also requires the Department of Commerce to consult with representatives from a range of travel and tourism sectors and provide policy recommendations for promoting and assisting the travel and tourism industry. To facilitate action on policies that provide immediate relief to the industry, the bill requires completion of an interim study within three months of the bill being enacted. The House companion legislation, led by U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor (Fla.) and Fred Upton (Mich.), passed the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in September.
“The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly devastating for hardworking Missourians whose livelihoods depend on the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries,” said Blunt. “Having a full understanding of the pandemic’s impact on jobs and the economy will help us ensure we have the right policies in place to support a full recovery in this critical sector. It’s especially important for a state like ours with all of our incredible parks, attractions, restaurants, and hotels that make Missouri a top travel destination.”
“From Lake Superior to the Mall of America, Minnesota is home to exceptional tourist destinations—but as travel has been limited during the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry has been hit particularly hard,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will help support the travel and tourism industry, which will boost local economies throughout Minnesota and across the country.”
As members of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, Blunt and Klobuchar have long championed efforts to support tourism in the U.S. as a way to drive economic growth.
In July, Blunt and Klobuchar, along with U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.), introduced bipartisan legislation to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel, or other special events. The Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act would modify existing Economic Development Administration grant programs to provide direct support to the hard-hit tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and help increase public confidence as these industries look to reopen safely in the future.
Last year, Blunt and Klobuchar helped secure the reauthorization of Brand USA through 2027. Brand USA is a public-private partnership that enhances tourism and job creation across the country. The program, which was established under the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act of 2009, brings in millions of additional international visitors to the U.S. each year at zero cost to taxpayers.