WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Co-chairs of the Travel and Tourism Senate, announced their bill to support Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States, was adopted by the Senate Committee on Commerce. Their legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Rick Scott (Florida), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va. ) and Kevin Cramer (ND). Complementary legislation was presented to the House by US representatives Gus Bilirakis (Florida) and Peter Welch (Vermont).
Brand USA, which is funded by international visitors and private contributions, has generated $ 56 billion in our economy since 2013 and historically supported over 45,000 jobs each year. However, the partnership lost significant funding due to the drop in international visitors due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic. The USA Brand Restoration Act will help Brand USA promote the United States to international visitors by directing the Treasury Department to allow the Department of Commerce access to critical resources to support the program for fiscal year 2022 .
This afternoon, the Trade Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion will hold a hearing titled “Legislative Solutions to Boost Travel and Tourism and Create Jobs”. During the hearing, committee members and witnesses will discuss the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act, which includes Blunt and Klobuchar’s bill to support Brand USA.
“I am committed to ensuring that we have the resources in place to help our travel and tourism industry rebound quickly and come out of this public health crisis even stronger than before”, Blunt said. “I am happy that the Trade Committee approved this bill with strong and bipartisan support. This will help the United States remain competitive in the international tourism industry, attract more visitors to attractions in Missouri and across the country, and benefit all those whose livelihoods depend on this vital industry. I urge all of our colleagues to support this bill and bring it to the president’s desk.
“Travel and tourism help generate billions in sales each year, fueling economic growth in local communities in Minnesota and across the country.” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation will help revive the industry and support small businesses by bringing new customers and more jobs to the United States.
“The travel and tourism industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit during the pandemic”, said Bilirakis. “As we seek to restore our way of life and make a full recovery, we cannot ignore the work that needs to be done to renew this powerful engine of economic growth for communities across the country. Brand USA has a proven track record as an effective catalyst in boosting tourism to the United States. We need this catalyst more than ever to help rebuild the industry and spur job growth. This crucial piece of legislation will help us achieve that goal without using a dime of taxpayer dollars. Common sense solutions like this will help stimulate the economy and move us in the right direction. ”
“The unprecedented challenges of this pandemic have only confirmed how vital tourism is to Vermont’s economy,” Welch said.“This bipartisan legislation will help support Brand USA’s recovery and promotional campaigns to strengthen the travel and tourism industry. The bill will also create local jobs and boost the economy in every corner of our beautiful state, when we need it most. ”
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 United States as a means of stimulating economic growth, including by adopting successfully passed legislation in 2019 to re-authorize the USA brand until 2027.
Blunt, Klobuchar, Cortez Masto and Cramer introduced bipartisan legislation in February to provide economic support to organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel or other special events. The Law on Maintaining Tourism Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic (STEP) would modify the Economic Development Administration’s existing grant programs to provide direct support to the hard-hit tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and helping to increase public confidence as these industries seek to safely reopen in the future.