Lawmakers and the travel industry are proposing smoother security lines, faster visas, and upgraded airports to ease the return of tourism when the U.S. reopens to vaccinated foreigners in November.
Senators said they were working on drafting a major travel and tourism bill at a hearing for the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Technology Tuesday.
Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Travelers exit the international arrivals door at Miami International Airport on September 20, 2021 in Miami.
The hearing comes just a day after the White House announced The U.S. will soon allow most foreign air travelers entry as long as they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a move the ailing industry has been pushing for months.
“With this announcement, the hard work begins to bring the United States back to the top travel destination in the world,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the US Travel Association, at the hearing.
It is. Jacky roses (D-Nev.), Who chairs the Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion Trade Subcommittee, said members had been working on a bipartisan package called the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021, investing in public-private partnerships to increase the number of visits U.S., investigate ways to screen airport travelers for Covid-19, and set up a task force to address the impact of the pandemic on air travel.
“The travel and tourism industries, which are vital to the economy and workforce of every state, still need significant help,” said Rosen. “I am happy to report that help is on the way.”
Full member of the committee Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) Said the travel industry battle was a “bipartisan issue,” so the senators’ staff formed a task force to compile bills.
Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the Global Business Travel Association, said the business travel industry needs additional support and resources to recover. Her organization supports the Omnibus Tourism Act of 2021, including its “necessary improvements in the visa process,” she said.
“Before Covid-19, the process of obtaining visas and passports was already tense,” she said. “Now the processing time is significantly longer.”
Wicker said there was a “huge problem” with the delay on passports and visas.
Emerson Barnes said lawmakers should provide relief to pandemic-hit travel companies, streamline flight safety, and take incentive measures to boost travel demand, including the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act (P. 477) and the Law for the Restoration of Trademarks (P. 2424).
Security lines at the airport
Industry officials also stressed the need to spend more on aviation security when travel picks up.
Christopher Bidwell, senior vice president of security at Airports Council International – North America, said lawmakers need to ensure there are enough officers in Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration, as well as adequate technology at security checkpoints.
Airport industry groups have expressed their support for a recent bill (P. 2717)by Democratic Sens. Edward Markey (Mass) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) TSA would give extra money to strengthen their security technology and pay salaries. To fund these priorities, the move would end the rerouting of the 9/11 security fee – a $ 5.60 fee that travelers pay when purchasing a plane ticket that has been used for other priorities in recent years.
“Each year, billions of dollars in TSA and CBP user fees are both unnecessarily withdrawn from their intended purpose to subsidize other federal programs,” Bidwell said in written certificate. “In this time of national emergency, stopping these budget tricks, ending fee diversion, and ensuring that revenue is returned to its intended use is critical.”
Although airport operators were happy to spend $ 20 billion on airport infrastructure in the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill (HR 3684) Now in front of the house, it’s just a “one-time infusion” of expense when the system has $ 115 billion in infrastructure needs, Bidwell said.
“Congress needs to find new ways to secure funding for these much-needed improvement projects,” he said.
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