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Restoring Travel Demand: Industry Leaders Urge Congress to Act

Recently, more than 600 travel industry members—representative of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam—signed a letter to congressional leadership urging immediate action on near-term federal policies to restore and grow the U.S. travel industry.

The letter details measures specifically aimed at reviving the domestic business travel and international inbound travel sectors, which continue to struggle to rebound. Early estimates from Tourism Economics indicate that international travel spending was a staggering 78% below 2019 levels in 2021. Similarly, domestic business travel spending was 50% below 2019 levels in 2021.

Tourism Economics projects that without targeted federal action to accelerate the return of business and international travel demand, both of these vital segments will not fully recover until at least 2024. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the following policies are necessary to restoring lost jobs, reinvigorating businesses and communities, and ensuring an even recovery across all sectors of travel:

Pass the Restoring Brand USA Act (S. 2424 / H.R. 4594), which transfers $250 million in surplus revenue from the Travel Promotion Fund to restore Brand USA's budget and support its efforts to bring back international visitors to all regions of the United States.

Brand USA's budget reached historic lows in 2021 due to the steep decline in international travel fees that are used to fund the program.

Provide targeted tax stimulus to restore spending on business travel, live entertainment and in-person events. Temporary tax credits and deductions, such as those proposed in Sections 2 and 4 of the Hospitality and Commerce Jobs Recovery Act (S.477/H.R.1346), would stimulate spending and quicken the pace of recovery for business travel, conferences, live entertainment, the arts, minor league sports, and other in-person events.

Provide additional funding for relief grants to severely impacted travel businesses by expanding eligibility for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, or enacting a new relief program with a similar structure to RRF for travel-dependent businesses severely impaired by COVID-19 restrictions—including hotels, event planners, group tour operators, attractions, travel advisors and many others.

The U.S. Travel Association is advocating for these immediate priorities and has also urged the Biden administration to move quickly on other policies to restore travel.

"As the Covid pandemic continues to impact the travel industry, providing additional federal relief and stabilizing policies will help all sectors of travel build an even recovery," said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy. "Congress should enact these priorities as quickly as possible to enable the return of business travel and professional meetings and events, in addition to the international inbound travel segment."

The letter in its entirety can be seen here, in addition to a list of the near-term steps both Congress and the administration can take to restore the U.S. travel industry.

Courtesy of Groups Today.


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