The Protecting Tourism in the United States Act would launch a comprehensive study into the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel and tourism industry, identify recommendations

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, introduced legislation that will help improve the tourism industry across the country by studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry and identifying policy recommendations to assist struggling businesses. The Protecting Tourism in the United States Act builds upon Klobuchar and Blunt’s efforts to support the travel and tourism industry and workforce, including securing 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. Companion legislation is led in the House by U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

“From Lake Superior to the Mall of America, Minnesota is home to exceptional tourist destinations. As the coronavirus pandemic has limited travel, the tourism industry has been hit particularly hard,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will help the travel and tourism industry recover and support local economies throughout Minnesota and across the country.”

“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.”

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been working to rush aid home to struggling working families, restaurants, and local small businesses, especially those whose jobs are tied to the hard hit tourism industry. Many of our neighbors are hurting, so we need a plan to help them bounce back. Our effort will help policymakers understand the best way forward. I’m pleased to work with Senators Klobuchar and Blunt as well as Rep. Upton to aid this bedrock economic engine for Florida and the nation,” said Castor.

“Michigan's tourism industry generates nearly $26 billion a year — and our state's tourism, like many, has been greatly impacted by the worst public health crisis in a century," said Upton. "Our restaurants, hotels, and mom-and-pop shops that make up our tourism industry have been hit hard. As Congress discusses COVID-19 emergency relief packages, it's important for this study to be done so we have the full picture and can provide effective solutions to support tourism and the industry's jobs."

“This bill is an important step in the effort to help travel-dependent businesses and workers regain their economic footing, creating a glidepath for much-needed recovery measures,” said Tori Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy. “We thank Senators Klobuchar and Blunt for their commitment to helping the travel industry come back bigger, better, and more resilient than ever.”

As members of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, Klobuchar and Blunt have long championed efforts to support tourism in the U.S. as a way to drive economic growth.

This month, Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), reintroduced 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 (EDA) 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.

In early 2020, Klobuchar and Cortez Masto led 14 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to Congressional leaders calling for additional funding for the EDA’s programs in future coronavirus economic recovery legislation. These programs help drive local economic development projects, develop new industries, build vital infrastructure, and enhance tourism and travel.