Alexandria, V.A., September 29, 2022 – The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) Executive Vice President, Advocacy Eben Peck releases the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Visit America Act (H.R. 6965) by a vote of 325-93 today:
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, government restrictions on and guidance against travel issued by an array of federal agencies highlight the scattered nature of federal oversight of the travel industry. Contending with various agencies and ever-changing rules while struggling to keep their businesses alive put unnecessary and avoidable hardships on travel advisors. Creating a high-level leadership position within the federal government focused on industry concerns, as the Visit America Act does, would protect the industry from unnecessary setbacks due to conflicting and confusing policy decisions.
"Specifically, the legislation establishes an Assistant Secretary of Travel and Tourism within the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide high-level leadership, accountable to Congress, to work effectively across federal agencies to develop and implement national strategies and policies that grow travel. Surprisingly, the U.S. is the only G20 country without a federal agency or cabinet-level official in charge of tourism policy. The bill would also require Commerce to develop and implement a COVID–19 public health emergency recovery strategy to assist the U.S. travel and tourism industry to quickly recover from the pandemic.
"In June, more than 200 travel advisors and suppliers representing ASTA took to the halls of Congress to advocate on behalf of this legislation and share their personal stories of how government restrictions affected their businesses throughout the pandemic. Their hard work paid off, as the legislation tripled its cosponsors in the week following ASTA’s Legislative Day.
"ASTA sincerely thanks Representatives Titus and Case, Senators Sullivan and Wicker, and the House and Senate Commerce committees for their hard work in advancing this commonsense legislation. We further appreciate the support of the full House of Representatives and urge the Senate to follow their lead and send this legislation to President Biden."