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Bill introduced in Senate to boost tourism sector

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., introduced bipartisan legislation in June that supports the travel and tourism industry.

Cortez Masto, alongside Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Angus King, I-Maine, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Lisa Murkowski, D-Alaska, introduced the Visit America Act on Wednesday. The proposed legislation would assist the travel and tourism industry recover from the effects of COVID-19.

“Las Vegas is a world-class travel destination, as are so many of Nevada’s stunning landscapes,” said Cortez Masto. “I’m co-leading on the bipartisan Visit America Act to make sure our government is doing everything it can to revitalize our country’s tourism and travel industry in the wake of the pandemic. I’ll continue to work in the Senate to strengthen Nevada’s vibrant hospitality industry and support its many important workers.”

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board would be authorized to create an assistant secretary position within the Department of Commerce. The person in this position would be focused on the travel and tourism industry and coordinate a strategy across multiple federal agencies by establishing annual goals and recommendations. Additionally, under the proposed legislation, a recovery strategy would be developed and implemented for the travel and tourism industry to allow for a quick recovery from the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cortez Masto is a co-lead of the Senate Tourism Caucus and has led bipartisan efforts in the past to help the travel and tourism industry. The senator introduced the bipartisan Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act earlier in 2021, a bill to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel or other special events.

The Nevada senator also worked to secure $750 million in funding for the Economic Development Administration during negotiations for the American Rescue Plan. The development administration helps states such as Nevada that were impacted by revenue loss in tourism and travel.

“In addition, she secured critical tax credits for Nevada’s hospitality and tourism businesses. Cortez Masto also led efforts to secure reauthorization of BrandUSA, a vital tourism promotion program that will help boost Nevada’s international tourism industry,” a release from Cortez Masto’s office states.

Other sponsors of the bill also recognized the need to help boost the tourism industry following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged all aspects of the tourism and hospitality industry, a crucial sector that supports our economy and thousands of good-paying jobs in Alaska,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Fortunately, against great odds, we were able to salvage a portion of Alaska’s crucial 2021 summer cruise ship season. We want to build on that success with a thorough federal strategy to rebuild U.S. tourism at a time when Americans and travelers around the world are eager to get out of lockdowns and see this great country again.”

Sullivan said, “I’m glad to launch the Visit America Act with my colleagues to better position the travel industry for a strong rebound with ambitious visitation goals, requirements for a whole-of-government recovery strategy, and a high-level tourism official in the federal government for the first time ever.”

King, chairman of the National Parks Subcommittee, said, “Each year, millions of visitors flock to Vacationland for a taste of the way life should be, as families are just a day’s drive or a quick flight away from sites that deliver lifelong memories without straining household budgets. From our picturesque coastline to our lush forests and awe-inspiring mountains, there is something for everyone in Maine – which is why many small businesses throughout Maine have built their business models around the busy summer season.”

King continued, “However, the coronavirus pandemic’s effects showed us just how vulnerable these businesses are to sudden shifts in consumer demand. In order to support the tourism industry and speed our economic recovery from the pandemic, we need to redouble our work to boost this vital part of our national economy. This legislation will unite a variety of government efforts under one federal office and one leader, strengthening our efforts to help the tourism industry grow and thrive.”

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