WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, announced that their bill to provide support for Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States, has passed the Senate Commerce Committee. Their legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), and Kevin Cramer (N.D.). Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) and Peter Welch (Vt.).
Brand USA—which is funded by international visitors and private contributions—has generated $56 billion to our economy since 2013 and has historically supported more than 45,000 jobs each year. However, the partnership has lost significant funding as a result of the drop in international visitors due to pandemic travel restrictions. The Restoring Brand USA Act will help Brand USA promote the U.S. to international visitors by directing the Treasury Department to allow the Commerce Department to access critical resources to support the program for Fiscal Year 2022.
This afternoon, the Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion will hold a hearing titled “Legislative Solutions to Revive 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 provide support for Brand USA.
“I’m committed to making sure we have the resources in place to help our travel and tourism industry bounce back quickly and emerge from this public health crisis even stronger than before,” said Blunt. “I’m pleased the Commerce Committee approved this bill with strong, bipartisan support. It will help the U.S. remain competitive in the international tourism industry, bring more visitors to attractions in Missouri and across the nation, and benefit everyone whose livelihoods depend on this critical industry. I urge all of our colleagues to support this bill and get it to the president’s desk.”
“Travel and tourism help drive billions in sales every year, powering economic growth in local communities in Minnesota and across the country,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will help revive the industry and support small businesses by bringing new customers and more jobs to the U.S. Now that it has passed the Commerce Committee, I look forward to it passing the full Senate and being signed into law.”
“The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic,” said Bilirakis. “As we seek to restore our way of life and fully recover, we cannot overlook the work that must be done to renew this powerful engine of economic growth for communities across the nation. Brand USA has proven itself as a successful catalyst for spurring tourism to the United States. We need that catalyst now more than ever to help rebuild the industry and spur job growth. This critical legislation will help us achieve that goal without utilizing a cent of taxpayer money. Common sense solutions like this will help boost the economy and help get us moving in the right direction.”
“The unprecedented challenges of this pandemic only confirmed just how vital tourism is for Vermont’s economy,” said Welch. “This bipartisan legislation will help support recovery and promotion campaigns at Brand USA to build the travel and tourism industry back up. The bill will also create local jobs and boost the economy in every corner of our beautiful state—at a time 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 U.S. as a way to drive economic growth, including successfully passing legislation in 2019 to reauthorize Brand USA through 2027.
Blunt, Klobuchar, Cortez Masto, and Cramer introduced bipartisan legislation in February 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.