A new Senate subcommittee on travel and tourism held its first hearing on Tuesday, with members and industry representatives calling for a roadmap for reopening widespread travel.
Subcommittee Chair Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said for the industry to recover from the pandemic, people need to know "we're open for business."
"With more American vaccinated and the CDC giving the green light for safe travel, there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Rosen said. "But to fully recover, we need to get Americans and the rest of the world traveling again."
Tori Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association, told the senators that the U.S. needs to be a leader in developing plans and guidelines for safe travel.
She said the group has been urging the Biden administration to develop by mid-May a science-based roadmap for reopening international travel by July. She said the plan could start with travel corridors between the U.S. and countries with low Covid-19 infection rates.
Additionally, U.S. Travel called for passage of a bill to end a ban on cruising; clear guidance by the CDC to safely restart professional meetings and events; enactment by Congress of the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act to spur incremental demand and accelerate rehiring; and $250 million in temporary emergency funding by Congress for Brand USA to promote inbound travel.
In a statement following the hearing, U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow thanked the committee "for bringing needed attention to the economic importance of a travel recovery in the U.S. and for working to establish this key new subcommittee.
"As was made clear in today's hearing, a full U.S. economic recovery won't happen without the reopening of travel," he said. "The travel and tourism industry accounted for a staggering 65% of U.S. jobs lost last year, so restoring this sector needs to be a national priority."