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 government and political affairs, external and industry communications, marketing and research teams.

Barnes is highly regarded on Capitol Hill and across the industry for managing a portfolio of domestic and international travel issues focused on transportation and infrastructure, security and travel facilitation, tax policy, sustainable travel practices, Brand USA, and national parks and public lands.

She is a manager of the association’s CEO Roundtable, a leader on multiple industrywide coalitions, a frequent presence in the news media, and the creator of U.S. Travel’s Travel Works Roadshow and the Future of Travel Mobility, a forward-looking advocacy conference and new event series. 

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 three consecutive years. She was 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 also is 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. 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.

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By Tori Emerson Barnes
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Let's Meet There: Recovering Business Travel, Professional Meetings and Events

June 24, 2021

This industry-wide webinar covers the launch of our latest campaign… Let’s Meet There. As domestic leisure travel...

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Updated CDC Guidance Is a Positive Step, but More Guidance Is Needed on Cruising

April 08, 2021

While the CDC’s new guidance is a welcome development, not all sectors of travel have received consistent guidance related to resuming operations, particularly cruise lines.

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Understanding and Accessing American Rescue Plan Relief

March 16, 2021

This webinar features the U.S. Travel government relations team as they walk through the travel-related provisions provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that includes much-needed federal assistance and substantial support to aid our industry’s recovery—as well as important details on accessing available relief. 

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October 29, 2020
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The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released a first-phase report that found, through a layered approach to risk mitigation, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission on aircraft.

October 28, 2020
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As the travel and tourism industry around the world continues to confront the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, significant strides are underway to restart global air travel when the time is right. The CEOs of the World Travel & Tourism Council and U.S. Travel Association and other industry...


October 22, 2020
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The travel industry cannot bounce back without travelers, and travelers need assurance that the act of traveling is safe.

October 19, 2020
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The availability of scientific data is hugely beneficial in restoring consumers’ confidence in the ability to fly safely.

October 01, 2020
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The Recovery of Air travel explored the importance of air travel recovery as well as the current state of air travel, updates that have been made to the experience and where it is headed. A panel discussion focused on how the air travel experience has changed, including health and safety protocols...


September 17, 2020
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Infrastructure investment should remain top of mind—not just to create jobs today, but in anticipation of a post-pandemic surge in travel demand.