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Funding Secured for Assistant Secretary of Travel and Tourism

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The travel industry welcomes this recent development. Congress has finally approved funding for creating an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism. Established by the Visit America Act passed in 2022, this position will bring much-needed leadership and focus to the U.S. travel and tourism sector.

Bipartisan Effort Avoids Shutdown

The U.S. Senate passed, on March 8th, a comprehensive spending package. Funding for the Assistant Secretary position was included in it. A potential government shutdown was put off through bipartisan effort, and over 1,000 pages of appropriations needs were addressed.  Earlier in the week, the House of Representatives approved the bill. President Biden is expected to sign it into law next.

Travel Industry Cheers the Move

The travel industry has strongly advocated this position. U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman shared his satisfaction with the outcome. He mentioned the importance of a coordinated approach to travel policy by saying that the Assistant Secretary “will play a valuable role in coordinating across the government to help innovate travel facilitation and address persistent challenges.”  Freeman emphasized the economic benefits by saying the position will be “integral as the U.S. prepares to host significant international events” and compete for a larger share of the global tourism market.

A Long-Awaited Step

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) shared Freeman’s sentiments. ASTA President & CEO Zane Kerby pointed out the challenges faced by travel advisors during the pandemic due to the lack of centralized authority. Kerby emphasized the need for a clear and consistent travel policy in the face of future crises. ASTA’s support, which included lobbying on Capitol Hill, was pivotal in getting this position funded.

Filling the Gap

Trailing behind other G20 nations, the U.S. has appointed a dedicated leader for travel and tourism. Now, using the appropriated money, a high-level position within the Department of Commerce will be set up. This will give the federal government a focused voice in the industry, streamline policy, and protect the industry from conflicting regulations that can hinder growth.

President Biden will nominate a qualified individual to fill the Assistant Secretary position. The travel industry is anticipating the appointment, which will signify a new era of collaboration and support for a vital sector of the U.S. economy.

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The post Funding Secured for Assistant Secretary of Travel and Tourism first appeared on Passing Thru.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Orhan Cam.

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