U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on introduction of the Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID-19 Pandemic (STEP) Act (S. 4299):
“Protection, relief and stimulus for travel-related businesses needs to be a significant priority in order for the broader economy to recover, and the bipartisan STEP Act introduced in the Senate includes a number of crucial measures for employers to hold on until they can rehire and help fuel an economic turnaround.
“The grants the bill would provide through the Economic Development Administration, which would be put toward tourism promotion as well as enhanced sanitation and encouraging the wearing of masks, will be invaluable for moving the country toward a safe reopening of travel. The bill also wisely makes aid available to the economically vital meetings, conventions and trade shows sector, which has a uniquely challenging path to recovery.
“Travel has experienced more devastation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic than any other American industry, with eight million jobs already lost—more than half of all the travel-supported jobs before the pandemic, and more than a third of the total jobs lost in the U.S.
“Getting the U.S. travel economy restarted is going to be particularly important, but it is also going to be particularly challenging. The only way travel jobs will be restored in a timely fashion is if businesses are able to survive until the point when travel is able to fully and safely resume and consumer demand picks up, and the STEP Act would be a major boon to those efforts.
“Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) deserve tremendous credit for crafting and introducing this important piece of jobs legislation, and we urge leaders to allow its timely consideration or include its policy measures in a broader legislative package.”
U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.