The $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill contains big perks for the travel industry

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After all the politics and attitudes associated with the $1.7 trillion government funding package, it’s easy to miss some of the bill’s 4,155-page budget items. We are happy to report that Omnibus’ spending bill includes significant benefits for both travelers and the travel industry.

Among the highlights is the new Assistant Secretary of State for Travel and Tourism position within the US Department of Commerce, which will focus on the country’s $1.1 trillion travel industry.

“This is a huge win for travelers, the travel industry and the American economy,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Travel Association. “Thanks to a bipartisan and bicameral group of congressional leaders, the US will join all G20 countries with travel-focused federal officials.”

“This new role is important as we partner with governments to reduce visitor visa wait times, modernize security screening and leverage new technologies to make travel more seamless and safe,” Freeman said. I will do my part,” he added.

The USTA has supported this new federal position. The new position highlights the industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy and helps America rebuild its global competitiveness, the association said.

The development of the travel industry is part of the bipartisan Travel and Tourism Act introduced by Senators Jackie Rosen (D-Nevada) and Senator Roger Wicker (R Miss).

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Rosen’s office formally recognized the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, which collects data on domestic travel and tourism, mandates the development of a national travel and tourism strategy every 10 years, and assesses the impact of the pandemic. We outlined additional legislative travel features, such as reporting. travel and tourism industry. Rosen’s office further said that until now, no one in the federal government was responsible for developing and coordinating the nation’s tourism strategy. The bill establishes this for the first time.

The travel component of the spending bill will also provide Congressional oversight to address excessive visa wait times, which currently take an average of more than 400 days to book a visitor visa. The American Travel Association predicts that in 2023, US businesses will attract 6.6 million less international visitors and $11.6 billion in lost spending. This is because these excessive wait times prevent international travelers from obtaining visitor visas in time to travel to the United States.

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The bill just passed the Senate before its deadline on Friday and is expected to pass the House tonight. It is then sent to President Joe Biden for approval. The president is expected to sign it as soon as it arrives at his desk.

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