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 and identify policy recommendations for assisting the industry

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 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 United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and the heads of other relevant 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 Commerce Department 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. Companion legislation is led in the House by U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) and Fred Upton (R-MI-06), which passed the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in September.

“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,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation will help support the travel and tourism industry, which will boost 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 Representative Kathy 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," Representative Fred Upton said. "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."

As a 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.

In July, Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), 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 (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.

Earlier this year, 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.

Last year, Klobuchar and Blunt 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.