Tori Emerson Barnes is Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy, at the U.S. Travel Association, the leading voice for all segments of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. Barnes directs the association's public affairs and external facing strategy and engagement including government and political affairs, media and industry communications, marketing and research teams.
Barnes is highly regarded on Capitol Hill, throughout critical constituencies in Washington, D.C. and across the travel industry for managing a portfolio of domestic, business and international travel issues focused on transportation and infrastructure, security and travel facilitation, tax policy, sustainable travel practices, Brand USA, national parks and public lands, among others.
She is the manager of the association’s CEO Roundtable, a leader on multiple industrywide coalitions, the creator of U.S. Travel’s Travel Works Roadshow and a frequent presence in the news media. In addition, Barnes founded the annual Future of Travel Mobility event in 2021, a forward-looking advocacy conference providing industry thought leadership across the travel, transportation and technology sectors together with government officials and the media.
Barnes is credited with securing pandemic-related federal relief utilized by hundreds of travel businesses and destinations. In 2020, she helped stand up the Let’s Go There Coalition that united dozens of major businesses and organizations in a national consumer campaign to inspire future travel amid the pandemic. The effort evolved into the Let’s Meet There Coalition to focus on the safe restart of business travel and professional meetings and events.
The Hill has named Barnes one of Washington’s top lobbyists for four consecutive years. In 2021, the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics recognized Barnes as a Top Lobbyist. She was also recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Travel by the Global Business Travel Association’s WINiT and selected as a Leading Lobbyist by Association Trends in 2020.
Barnes is on the board of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game and coaches the Members of Congress team, which plays an annual game versus women in the press to raise money for the Young Survival Coalition, an organization for young women facing breast cancer. She is also a founding member of the Boom Supersonic Sustainable Travel Forum.
Prior to joining U.S. Travel in November 2017, Barnes was an integral member of General Motors’ federal affairs team for more than 14 years, where her efforts led to the enactment of the electric vehicle tax credit for consumers, among other policy wins. In her role, Barnes advised GM’s chief executive officer and senior company leaders. She has also served as a congressional liaison for the Republican National Committee, and as director of fundraising and events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s National Capital Chapter.
A Washington, D.C., native, Barnes graduated from George Mason University and attended Miami University of Ohio. In 2014, Barnes participated in GM’s inaugural Stanford Business School Transformational Leadership program for senior executives. She is an avid runner and loves to exercise, ski, travel and spend time with her daughter, family and friends.