The U.S. Travel Association on Wednesday announced the recipients of its 2022 Travel Champion Awards: Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) was awarded the association’s Distinguished Leadership Award and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) received the Travel Champion Award.

DCH Travel Champs - Blunt

Photo courtesy: U.S. Travel Association

Pictured (L to R): Roger Dow (U.S. Travel), Sen. Roy Blunt, Kitty Ratcliffe (Explore St. Louis), Tori Emerson Barnes (U.S. Travel)

Each is being honored for their exceptional leadership in advancing and protecting policies that strengthen travel to and within the United States.

U.S. Travel presented the awards today during Destination Capitol Hill, the travel and tourism industry’s premier legislative fly-in event dedicated to educating policymakers about the power of travel and showcasing the industry as one of America’s most vital economic sectors. The event brought industry leaders to the U.S. Capitol for more than 260 meetings with members of Congress to advocate for policies to accelerate travel’s recovery.

“The voices coming together for this year’s Destination Capitol Hill are vitally important,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Travel’s recovery has been uneven and we’re not where we should be, namely in terms of business and international inbound travel. Lawmakers can help restore travel and rebuild the good American jobs this industry produced by supporting policies that will boost these critical sectors.”

This year’s Travel Champions are emblematic of the tireless work that is needed to restore the U.S. travel industry.

“Travel supports communities in every region of the U.S. and will be crucial to our nation’s economic recovery,” said U.S. Travel’s Dow. “This year’s Travel Champions and Distinguished Leader have consistently reached across the aisle to advance policies to strengthen the travel industry, bolster its workforce and increase global competitiveness. We honor Senators Blunt and Klobuchar and Congressman LaHood for outstanding support of America’s travel and tourism industry.”

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Senator Blunt has been a pragmatic leader and a longtime advocate for the travel industry in his 25 years in Congress.

Senator Blunt cosponsored the original Travel Promotion Act in 2009 to establish Brand USA and led the efforts to advance the program through two reauthorizations and emergency funding efforts amid the pandemic. Beyond Brand USA, Senator Blunt was a champion of the expedient progress for a COVID vaccine here in the U.S., which allowed travel to resume more freely. Importantly, Senator Blunt pushed for relief efforts throughout the pandemic and helped to ensure destination marketing organizations were made eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. He has championed many other travel-related priorities and has been a strong voice on the importance of travel and travel-related businesses in the broader economy. He also serves as a co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus.

“America’s travel and tourism industry supports millions of jobs and contributes more than a trillion dollars to our economy,” said Senator Blunt. “Tourism is especially important for a state like ours, which is home to some of the best parks, historical sites, landmarks and attractions in the country. I’m incredibly grateful for everyone who is part of Missouri’s travel and tourism industry for their tireless efforts to create opportunities in local communities and welcome visitors to our state. I also appreciate the strong leadership of the U.S. Travel Association and all they are doing to help businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic. I’m proud to receive this award, and I’ll continue my work in Congress to support policies and programs that will boost travel and tourism in Missouri and across the nation.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Senator Klobuchar is a strong champion of the travel industry and has been one of Brand USA’s biggest advocates since the program’s inception. Senator Klobuchar was instrumental in cosponsoring and passing the Restoring Brand USA Act, which provided $250 million in relief funding for our country’s destination marketing organization. She also serves as a co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus.

“Thank you to the U.S. Travel Association for honoring me with the 2022 Travel Champion Award. Travel and tourism are crucial to powering economic growth and creating jobs in communities across Minnesota and our country,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This year, we signed into law my bipartisan Restoring Brand USA Act, which will provide our tourism industry with much-needed economic support for travel promotion. As we say in Duluth, we can finally see the lighthouse on the horizon, and as more businesses open their doors to more visitors and customers, we need to remind international travelers of all we have to offer. As co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I’m committed to championing travel and tourism across the nation to ensure America remains the best place in the world to visit.”

Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL)

Congressman LaHood is one of the strongest voices in the U.S. House when it comes to championing the economic power of the travel industry. Throughout the pandemic, Congressman LaHood has advanced policies to help all sectors of travel recover evenly, including introducing the bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act.

“It is an honor to receive the U.S. Travel Association’s 2022 Travel Champion Award,” said Congressman LaHood. “Illinois is home to robust travel and tourism, including the scenic Route 66 and the Abraham Lincoln Heritage Sites in my Congressional district. Last year, I was proud to introduce the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act to support Illinois businesses that rely on a robust travel and tourism industry as they were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and state-mandated closures. I’ll continue to work on the Ways and Means Committee to support Illinois’ expansive travel and tourism industry.”

Please click here to learn more about Destination Capitol Hill and the Travel Champion Awards.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



David James

Vice President, Media Relations

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