Last month’s Destination Capitol Hill fly-in broke records—but the travel industry’s work engaging with lawmakers can’t stop there.
The travel industry made a major impact on Washington last month—but our work does not, and cannot, stop there.
Destination Capitol Hill, the U.S. Travel Association’s premier legislative fly-in, drew a record 325 travel industry representatives from 42 states for more than 305 scheduled meetings with members of Congress. In today’s ever-evolving political landscape, these types of events are more important than ever, especially given the attention on issues critical to travel. While U.S. Travel consistently works in Washington with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle—as we have done for 75 years—we cannot understate the effect of travel workers and leaders meeting lawmakers face-to-face.
This year, during the meetings with members of Congress, DCH delegates focused on three priority topics: the positive impact of travel; infrastructure and airport modernization; and international travel and the Visa Waiver Program. Travel industry leaders highlighted to lawmakers the enormous economic impact of travel in the U.S.; they emphasized the importance of protecting the Visa Waiver Program, which brings in 60 percent of international travelers to the U.S.; they called upon government leader to preserve and expand America’s Open Skies agreements; above all, they built upon the Trump administration’s calls for infrastructure overhaul with calls to embrace commonsense funding solutions for airport improvements.
Many issues that are deeply important to travel to and within the U.S. are at stake. The current political climate offers both steep challenges and potentially groundbreaking opportunities for travel and tourism. That’s why it’s so important for our industry to get in front of congressional representatives year-round, not just once a year.
One way to engage with lawmakers in your own backyard? Host a Travel Talks event with your senator or representative. U.S. Travel’s Power of Travel Coalition will help you host your congressional reps at a site significant to the travel industry in your area—an airport, stadium, hotel, convention center, or attraction—for a behind-the-scenes tour and facilitate a meeting where all can discuss the most pressing issues facing your local travel community.
It’s also important that travel supporters stay up to date on the issues that U.S. Travel advocates for throughout the year. Signing up for updates from the Power of Travel Coalition is a free and easy way to stay in the loop, and stay engaged with what’s happening in Washington. The coalition sends legislative updates to its members, and tells them when their voice is needed with action alerts. The more travel supporters we have involved, the stronger our voice is in Washington and state capitols. Sign up at TravelCoalition.org.
Advocacy for the travel and tourism industry truly makes a difference. Thanks to our efforts, we have secured pledges from lawmakers to preserve and expand Open Skies, protect the Visa Waiver Program, and compelled lawmakers to join the influential Travel and Tourism Caucus in both chambers. However, our work in Washington would be much less effective without the travel industry’s grassroots engagement with lawmakers in their home states and districts. Destination Capitol Hill is a deeply impactful undertaking, but it’s just the start. Talking to your lawmakers year-round is what keeps our industry’s voice heard in our government.