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tv   Experts Testify on Reviving Travel Industry Jobs  CSPAN  October 6, 2021 8:54am-10:26am EDT

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>> good afternoon. and welcome to the tourism trade and export promotions subcommittees, our fifth hearing, the appearing on reviving travel and tourism economy, and a first legislative hearing. over the past few months members of this subcommittee and at the full commerce committee had been working together on a bipartisan package of travel and tourism
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bills, officially called the on the bus travel and tourism act, or as we prefer to call it, the tour bus. this comprehensive legislation would support the recovery of the travel and tourism economy in the wake of covid-19, wake of the covid-19 pandemic and help us build a a brighter future r businesses and workers in this key sector for every single state in our nation. since we held our first hearing on the state of travel and tourism industry in april of this year there have been some positive trends. just yesterday the administration announced its intentions to begin lifting travel restrictions in november for fully vaccinated foreign travelers seeking to fly to the united states. this safe, practical step will provide a much-needed boost to our travel and tourism economy come supporting businesses and workers as we look to turn the corner from this pandemic.
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and yesterday's news it's just one more sign the travel and tourism industry appears to be in the process of recovering but slowly. harry reid international airport in las vegas saw just over 4 million visitors in july, only 8% below its july 2019 numbers and thankfully consumers are planning leisure travel again. federal relief like the paycheck protection program, restaurant revitalization fund and the shattered binges operator script program, they have helped keep businesses afloat during this very trying time. support for tourism heavy economies through out the economic development administration grants has also make this recovery possible. widespread availability of the covid-19 vaccine, or as provided the greatest standards improving public health and consumer confidence. however, the travel and tourism
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industry, vital to every states economy and workforces still needs significant help. business travel revenues not expected return to 2019 levels until at least 2024. they are nearly 500,000 fewer hotel jobs compared to the pre-pandemic hotel employment. and overseas arrival in july 2021 were nearly 78% below july 2019 levels. for numerous reasons, international travel remains virtually nonexistent and we look forward to the lifting of international travel bans. i'm happy to report though that help is on the way. not only focus on pandemic recovery but also on the future growth of travel, tourism and hospitality in years to come. you must help create and bring back good paying jobs that depend on, that depends on bringing more visitors to the u.s. and investing in the infrastructure of the travel and
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tourism industry desperately needs. bipartisan bill package together in the tour bus package will create jobs and for the support the recovery of the travel and tourism industry by, number one for establishing permanent leadership in the federal government on travel establishing permanent leadership in the federal government on travel policies and strengthening the department of commerce's role in coordinating federal travel and tourism policies. two, investing in brand usa, the nation's public/private partnership dedicated to increasing visitation to the united states. updating the national travel and tourism infrastructure strategic plan to leverage infrastructure investment to help the industry recover from the pandemic. studying innovative ways to screen airport travellers for covid-19 and establishing a temporary joint task force among the department of transportation, the department
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of homeland security and the department of health and human services to address the unique impact of covid-19 on air travel both during and after the pandemic. i'm proud of the work that the members of the subcommittee that we have done to build the omnibus travel and tourism act. i particularly want to thank the chair for supporting this bipartisan effort and her team for contributing to our discussions, the ranking member for his team's significant role in crafting the package and facilitating discussions and ranking member scott for his leadership on airport screening provisions, senators klobuchar, sullivan and blunt for their substantive contributions to the bill and so many other members of this subcommittee and full committee that are leading or co-leading revisions in the draft omnibus. senators markey, schott and
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blumenthal. i look forward to partnering to advance policy changes that grow nevada's travel and tourism industry. i'm looking forward today to hearing from all of our witnesses about how we can improve our legislation before we bring it before the broader commerce committee for a vote and then to the senate floor. testifying today on the bill we have industry experts from the u.s. travel association, the global business travel association, the airport council international north america and the american hotel and lodging association. it's my hope that today's hearing will demonstrate what we need to pass the tourism package and provide a forum for an engaging discussion on how to further support travel and tourism businesses and their workers as the industry recovers. thank you all again for being here. i look forward to hearing each of you share your experiences and expertise with us. i will now turn it over to ranking member scott for his opening statement and then introduce our witnesses. senator scott. chair rosen for her teen which is very dedicated
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to growing tourism not just each verse eight was in puerto rico but all across the country got what you think all of our witnesses for being with us and sharing their perspective. travel and tourism are incredibly important to the american economy, every state, and that's on full display in my home state of florida. florida some to some of the best travel destinations in the world, whether that be our beaches, our wildlife or attractions, cruising and more. when i was governor we grew the number of annual terrorist from 80 million tourists when i got started to play shows their 126 million tourists, with a lot of jobs. record number every year. these tourists support our small business, fuel or job growth can help increase state investment in the private transportation public safety and education and i think it's true probably for chair rosen home state and my what people come down as tourists often by a home if they don't use it and pay all of our taxes. it's a great deal. i know this pandemic has impacted each of us differently
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and we had to adapt to a lot for families, businesses and employees to stay safe. the pandemic has heard florida's travel industry significantly. i think the same is true for the people of las vegas industry. much like the entire country. eifert from a lot of businesses and employees in florida that rely on tourism for their jobs and their facing a lot of challenges in this recovering from the pandemic. everybody sweetheart to get our businesses reopened and get these jobs back. florida is open for business. i know the regulations the biden administration is proposed and the to covid international travel have created some uncertainty around the state of especially our international travel and tourism industries and will have to continue her to forget how to do this so get these tourists back. our nation is on the can't go back to shut dense, we can't cripple our economy, can't destroy our jobs again. all these things of impacted each of our families, education
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everything. i got my vaccine. i think probably everybody here did. some people probably have gotten three of them and anybody i encourage you think will do anybody who feels comfortable getting the vaccine hope they get one. i didn't talk your hospital industry and very few of the individuals that got sick in our hospitals have had the vaccine. i had covid and cut the vaccine and i hope other people do the same thing. so i'm very proud of the work that chair rosen has led on the subcommittee. it's important to a lot of jobs. i look for to continuing to work with the chair and getting something sent through the full committee. i worked on a lot of bills with regard to travel to i just want to bring up a couple of them. the bipartisan fly safe k-9 covid detention act with senator sinema to direct tsa to conduct a feasibility study on the use of k-9 units which of them reportedly effective in
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detecting covid and will provide additional data passenger screening. we ought to figure out how to get her airports better at doing screenings so we don't ever have this shutdown again. the number of jobs lost for a period of time because of what happened with travel either domestic or international is devastating. we also i think all of us are very focused on restoring brand usa with bipartisan bill with senator klobuchar, blood and chair rosen, make funds available to bring josie to both international travel as we recover from this covid i think everybody sitting here, we've all sponsored legislation that will help make sure we get this travel industry back. i look forward to what with my colleagues to make sure we go back to record tourism again in each of our states because it creates a lot of good paying jobs in is one of our 50 states. thank you, chair rosen. >> thank you, thank yo. i'm going to yield now to store wicker, ranking member of the full committee for some opening
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remarks. >> thank you so much, senator rosen and senator scott for holding the support hearing to examine legislative proposals to revise travel and tourism and create jobs. new tourism trade and export promotion subcommittee has been very active in this congress and i'm encouraged by the by person nature of its work. this is a bipartisan issue we are talking about today. the travel and tourism industry is a vital pillar of the american economy. covid-19 has decimated this industry perhaps more than any other sector. nearly 40% of all u.s. jobs lost because of the pandemic were in leisure and hospitality employment. through your worst point of the crisis unemployment and the travel and tourism sector reached over 50%, more than double the national unemployment rate at the height of the great depression. congress has thought to provide much needed relief to help this industry survive and recover,
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and would recognize more support is needed over the past several months our staffs and the status of other members have formed a working group to examine have various pieces of bipartisan legislation can be packaged together to support our economic recovery. their work has led to the draft of the omnibus tourism act, the tour bus. i hope it becomes a byword in this congress. the discussion draft includes provisions to study the impacts of covid-19 on the travel and tourism industry, elevate travel and tourism matters at the department of commerce, travel to the united states, and set visitation goals for international travelers. this draft legislation has the potential to promote the travel and tourism industry and accelerate its recovery. i hope our witnesses will update the committee on the state of travel and tourism industry and share their views on the discussion draft.
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it might take years to restore travel and tourism to pandemic levels but but i hope not. i'm hopeful our work on this draft legislation league to a bipartisan package that will help this sector heal faster and prosper once again. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator wicker vic appreciate you being here today and for your comments. we have four other witnesses. some are visiting with us virtually and so the first witness i would like to introduce is u.s. travel tori emerson barnes. we will welcome her back to the subcommittee. she provided invaluable testimony at our inaugural subcommittee hearing hacking people and i'm thankful that she is joining us again today as we develop our recommendations into legislative solutions. as executive vice president of public affairs and policy at u.s. travel association ms. barnes leads the government
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relations, policy department, communications, marketing and research team for the nation's leading advocacy organization for travel and tourism issues. ms. barnes, you are now recognize for your opening remarks. >> chair rosen, ranking member scott and the members of the subcommittee good afternoon. i'm tori emerson barnes executive i present a public affairs and policy for the u.s. travel association. we are the only association that represents all sectors of the travel industry. thank you for inviting us to participate in this important hearing. while i always prefer to meet face-to-face i am thrilled to be testifying virtually from your home town of las vegas, nevada, with this travel association is hosting its annual trade show ip w. in fact, i pw is a perfect example of why today's hearing is so important. and and i pw international trl buyers from around the globe meet with american travel businesses and destinations to purchase bookings for future travel to the united states.
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in 2018 travel bookings purchased at ipw generated 29 billion international travel spending to the u.s. which supported 83,000 american jobs. this tradeshow demonstrates the substantial economic power of both business and international travel to vital segments of the industry that are still struggling to recover. according to tourism economics the domestic business spending this year is projected to be just 57% of 2019 levels and the u.s. is projected to lose more than 200 billion international travel spending. this year. economists project it will take at least four years for these segments to be restored and we simply can't wait that long. thankfully with the right policies in place as proposed by this committee congress can accelerate a safe return to travel and restore travel jobs. u.s. travel as identified three broad areas for congress can act. first fight continued relief for
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impact the travel businesses come second, and asked him as measures to spur travel demand and third, and act long-term investments and policy changes to build a stronger more globally competitive travel industry. for continued economic relief many small businesses and organizations are struggling to stay afloat, particularly those that are heavily dependent on business and international travel or in regions where leisure travel has been slow to return. congress should consider extending ppp reform the restaurant revitalization fund to provide grants to travel related travel dependent small business of and an act to save hotel jobs act. to accelerate the return of business travel meetings conferences and events congress should enact the bipartisan hospitality and commerce jobs recovery act which would help support business meeting and event related travel. these could generate 227 billion in incremental economic activity and help restore the 2.8 million
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hospitality jobs that remained lost to the pandemic. congress can enact stimulus measures to restore international travel quickly and safely. i would like to applaud the biden administration for its announcement and plans to live in free restrictions in early november and replace them with a global vaccine and testing requirement for inbound international travelers. with this announcement the hard work now begins to make the united states the top destination in the world once again. that's why congress must quickly enact the restoring brand usa act. i would like to thank you for an reducing the restoring brand usa act which provides one-time emergency funding of 250 million to support the organizations recovery. we strongly support the inclusion of this act in the omnibus tourism act of 2021 which provides another possible pathway towards enactment. finally, congress must support investments and policies that can make the travel industry
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stronger and more globally competitive than it was before the pandemic. congress can a call pushes by enacting the visit america act which would elevate the commerce department role in coordinating federal travel policies and setting long-term national strategies, establishing more senior leadership at the department of transportation to coordinate travel policy across all modes of transportation, enacting the one-stop security pilot program that would streamline the entry process without compromising security, and making investments in travel infrastructure to bring about a more modern efficient sustainable transportation network. lastly i would like to thank the many for its critical role in shaping and advancing the bipartisan infrastructure investment and jobs act which will be critical for the travel industries recovery. from relief to stay most investments in the future there's no shortage of policies that can help restore travel jobs and get americans and our economy moving again. i would like to thank the members of the security including to under subcommittee
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senator blunt for your work developing the omnibus tourism act or tour bus at 2021 and help the bill will move through the committee soon so we can ensure these posts are enacted the shooter where grateful for your significant leadership, for the travel industry and i look forward to working with you on these solutions and welcome any questions that you may have. >> thank you, ms. barnes. appreciate you being here. and now i would like to introduce our next witness. ms. suzanne neufang, the countries premier business travel and business trade organization. ms. neufang four assumed the role as ceo earlier this year. prior to leading gpa she held several senior leadership roles of travel and technology companies. she's been an active member of gbta since 205 and the dissociation of corporate travel
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executives in various capacities between 2012-2018. thank you so much for being here virtually. here are now recognize for your opening remarks. >> chairwoman ros-lehtinen, ranking member scott and members of the subcommittee, i am suzanne neufang ceo of the global business travel association, or gbta. thank you for the opportunity to testify today regarding ledges and solutions to revive travel and tourism and create jobs. gbta is the premier business travel and meeting straight association is headquartered in the washington, d.c. area. gbta serves global network of more than 28,000 corporate travel policy professionals and over 125,000 constituents within the business travel industry. we represent an industry that in 2019 accounted for $1.9 trillion globally and $345 billion in the u.s. alone. for the last 12 years gbta has
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produced an annual business travel index which is a comprehensive study of business travel spending and growth covering 75 countries across 48 industries. our most recent study was released in february of 2021 and it was based on fourth-quarter 2020 data. this projected the financial impact of global travel declined from the covid-19 pandemic was expected to be ten times that of the great recession, or 9/11. our forecasts estimate at full global recovery in business travel no earlier than 2024 and in the u.s. 2025. in fact, we estimate this year's global business travel spending would be no greater than $842 billion, a billion dollars, a loss of 40% since 2019 and focusing just within u.s. this is travel spent for 2021 is estimated to be less than $145 billion this year, i decline to 57%. because of this study was
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released in february these estimates do not factor in the latest considerations especially the late plans due to impacts related to the delta variant. gbta conducts monthly covid-19 recovery poll of our constituents and on recent data shows renewed negativity and business travel sentiment within a a special of the past two months. gbta early summer polling showed 61% of u.s. companies were already connecting some nonessential domestic business travel. of those not traveling, two-thirds plan to resume domestic travel within three months. however, by august that figure had fallen to one-fourth as covid-19 cases were once again rising. as i put forth the business travel industry needs additional support and resources to recover. as such gbta supports the inclusion of the omnibus tourism act of 2021 in the build back america plant as as a positip in restoring global business travel and meetings in the u.s. and abroad.
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while there are many good policy ideas in this legislation i will focus on two. the implementation and support of this business american and needed improvements in the fisa process. as restrictions on international travel use it will be vital to visit american promotion of travel to the u.s. to inform the world that america is safe and open for business. there is no question the restrictions on european union,, uk and other travelers visiting the u.s. dramatically impacted business travel. this is a policy that began in early 2020 and whose restrictions were just updated yesterday for november implementation, a very long 18 months in which we welcome ending. international companies welcomed the safe reopening of the u.s. for the business travelers and need to know we will remain a safe destination. the visit america program and items related to interagency cooperation strategic divisions on tourism and improving safety and screening are necessary to achieve those goals.
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secondly, visas and passports are vital to business travel. prior to covid-19 the process for obtaining visas and passports was already strained. now the processing time is significantly longer it we're getting reports visa appointment availability in some countries stretching into mid-2022. passport and a link company for reporting to us the department of state standards delivery time for passports has tripled from six weeks pre-covid to four months today. expedited passport delivers got up sixfold from two weeks to three months. we urge the expediting a visa and passport processing times so that his business travelers return to travel and return to business they can have the proper documentation. as we look at the business travel industry is still in deep recovery mode and will be for the near future. it is important government and business work together mitigating risks such as by increasing vaccination uptake. one thing we do know, it's time we get business travelers act in
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the skies come on trains and on the road again safely and responsibly. thank you very much again. >> thank you again, ms. neufang. we appreciate you being here as well. our next witness testifying remotely is christopher bidwell, senior vice president of security airports council international north america. he leads efforts on aviation security, oversees its regulatory activity and is a subject matter expert on security policy, domestic and international aviation security and airport regulation. he serves on several working groups and committees including the tsa aviation security advisory committee where he is vice chair. mr. bidwell is also multi-instrument related braided, excuse me, commercial pilot. mr. bidwell you are now recognize for your opening remarks. >> thank you, chair rosen and
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ranking member scott and members of the subcommittee. i am a trans-senior vice president of security, airports international north america i appreciate the in country invitation to participate. acina and our member airports with appreciate your interest in restoring health and safe travel to destinations throughout the united states. while there was an uptick in passenger volumes at airports this summer, extended duration of the global pandemic coupled with the rise in the delta variant and again cause our numbers to dip well below 2019 levels. we are experiencing a downturn in leisure travel, i delay in the return of business travel and the continued closure of our international borders. as we look for ways to emerge from this crisis i would like to offer the following policy solutions that would greatly assist the travel and tourism industry as we head toward
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recovery. first, the most fundamental step the u.s. government can take is reopening our borders to international travel. america's airports applaud the biden administration's announcement to allow fully vaccinated passengers to travel the united states. this latest step response to our request for a plan to restore international travel which is critical to the aviation industries economic recovery. we look forward to working with our government and industry partners to ensure a smooth implementation. second, in order to keep security checkpoints and federal inspection stations open, operational and say, congress must ensure there is a a sufficient number of cbp and tsa officers as well as technology to support the return of international travel. we must avoid the long lines at checkpoints that create security vulnerabilities and minimize potential for passengers and baggage to miss their connecting
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flights. third, several provisions contained in the draft at the omnibus travel and tourism act would have a direct benefit to airports and the travel and tourism industry. we appreciate the inclusion of the insuring health safety in the skies act which acina strongly supports, a task force of federal agencies made up of us aviation industry partners would be very helpful in developing meaningful guidelines and developing recommendations to address the challenging operational and infrastructure issues related to covid-19 recovery and future pandemic planning. we also appreciate the inclusion of a tsa pilot program for one-stop security for international passengers connecting to domestic flights in the united states. acina has been a long supporter of one-stop security. additionally, we appreciate the inclusion of provisions designed to raise the profile of travel
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and tourism industry within the u.s. government and to increase participation and trusted traveler programs. although there may be some benefit from crosstraining tsa k-9 since covid-19, taking tsa k-9s off-line for new training could reduce the time they are available to screen passengers and baggage for explosives. this raises potential security concerns. we encourage congress and tsa to use the findings from a recently launched k-9 covid-19 protection pilot at miami international airport to inform any similar program at tsa. finally, one thing that has not changed during the pandemic, , r airports continue to face substantial infrastructure needs. in addition to creating jobs, new investment and airports can help local communities attract air service which increases competition and leads to lower airfares for passengers. we sincerely appreciate a
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$20 billion in airport infrastructure funding included in the senate bipartisan infrastructure built. this one-time infusion of capital will help jumpstart new projects at airports. however, given the $115 billion $15 billion in infrastructure needs at airports as documented in our infrastructure report, congress must find new ways to ensure funding for these much needed improvement projects. airports are leading economic engines in their communities and an integral part of the travel and tourism industry. acina and our member airports will continue to work with the subcommittee and our government and industry partners to whether this crisis so we can get americans and international passengers traveling again. through an aviation system that a stronger safer more secure and more resilient than ever. thank you for this opportunity today. i welcome your questions. >> thank you, mr. bidwell. again we appreciate you being
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here. and now rounding out our panel i would like to introduce our final witness, testifying in present-day and thankfully because when you do all this traveling you need somewhere to stay. so mr. chirag shah senior vice president of government affairs at the american hotel and lodging association, ahla. he assumed his role at ahla in march of this year, a critical time for the hospitality industry. prior to joining ahla he served as vice president of government affairs and counsel at the asian american hotel owners association. he's also member of the board's of use travel association, the californian hotel and lodging association, the pennsylvania restaurant lodging association, the florida restaurant lodging association, the south carolina restaurant and lodging association, the coalition of franchisee association, and the georgia statewide human trafficking task force.
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mr. shah, you are recognized for your opening remarks. >> thanks for the opportunity to testify today. i look forward to -- bring back our workforce and response to covid-19. i service senior vice president of the american hotel and lodging association and for more than 100 years ahla has probably represented all segments of the u.s. lodging industry including our associates, branson hotel owners. for our members what matters most to serving their guests, creating good jobs and uplifting their communities. senators, this is a most severe crisis in the history of the hotel industry. without relief we are facing catastrophic economic impacts for the entire american economy and for the communities that you represent. here's a snapshot. because of historically low occupancy rates, business declines are not only worse than the great recession, there also worse than the great depression. hotel revenues are nine times
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worse and after 9/11 and industry lost over 700,000 jobs in 2020. as vaccinations became available and some arrival or hopeful for a rebound. the uptick in travel did not last. the delta variant is wreaking havoc. now over two-thirds of business travelers and have the leisure travelers are postponing or canceling their trips. the decline in business terms of the amount to half of all revenues and will cost the hotel and she nearly $59 billion. revenues will be done 50% and hotels will lose $97 billion billion dollars in 2021 alone. hotels are now bracing for another wave of hardship and staff reductions and the worst effects on big cities that appointment to ever work for mlat on conventions and events. just last week urban market hotels were down more than 40% in revenue compared to 2019. our industry will not recover until 2024. the pandemic has also been
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dancing to the hotel workforce. 500,000 jobs that jobs that existed before the pandemic will not return this year. the data is stark compared to the rest of the national economy. while overall unemployment dropped to 5.2%, accommodation sector remained at 14.5% nearly three times the three times the national average. the pandemic has eliminated a decade of job growth in the hotel industry. our industry is experiencing critical staffing shortage could be laid off and furloughed simply employees have other jobs or moved away. as hotel years seek to rebuild they cannot find enough workers despite increasing conversation and offering additional benefits. staff will endure low i can see rates in one of the cruel ironies inflicted by this pandemic. the road to recovery for our industry remains long. however successful efforts in congress to restore travel and tourism will be a a catalyst r expansive development. we are grateful for this committee is efforts on on of this tour is an act or the tour bus which will provide vital funding for infrastructure for
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our beleaguered economy as we continue toward recovery. visit and make will bring back international visitors. in 2020 international travel fell by 76% and we welcomed carcasses gold to see 116 million visitors who spent 445 billion done as per year by 2032. this sends a message america will be open for business when travel returns. the bill establishes a new assistant secretary of commerce for travel and tourism as a presidential point you require senate confirmation for the rule -- promote travel tourism develop critical infrastructure and marshal resources. ..
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established the united states as a premier travel destination and shorten the time of our recovery . we appreciate the foresight in we appreciate the foresight for easing the travel experience. this will put more heads in beds. . in addition to the important measures included in the tour bus we encourage direct relief for the lodging industry. despite being the hardest hit by the crisis hotels are the only segment yet to receive direct covidrelated aid. the act would provide benefits to the most severely impacted . congress can significantly jumpstart travel by assessing hospitality and commerce job. large group events which often significantly take years to plan. passages that would drive travel demand and support millions of jobs to small businesses. chair rosen and ranking member scott, thank you for the opportunity to share the impact of covid-19 on the
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hotel industry. congress can take action to accelerate the recovery and soften the scars left by the pandemic. the hotel industry looks forward to working with youto revive tourism . thank you for your leadership >> i want to thank all our witnesses for joining today and for their thoughtful opening statements . ranking member of our full committee, senator wicker for the first round of questioning. >> thank youvery much madame chair and you're right. the testimony has been very helpful and very good and i appreciate it . i think i'll start with miss new fang because i know if my colleagues have experienced what we have in our office, there's this huge problem with the delay in passports and visas. i appreciate this messed new
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fang mentioning in this on page 3 of her testimony where she mentions visas and by extension passports are vital and i just wondered if you miss noufang or any other members of the panel can pinpoint. i know this was slow but now it's gotten slower even as we have gotten fewer tourists. why is that? is it that people are working from home, is less convenient to do it that way, would itbe better if we got back to the offices ? i would appreciate some assistance in understanding why at the time when there are fewer applicants, the process for visas is slower. do you want to start miss noufang? >> thank you senator wicker. our view is part of the program has been shuttered
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indefinitely and the business travel didn't make sense even after passport businesses were resumed so in the program used by travelers we need to obtain passports quickly the baseline, the shortfall applications received in 2020 due to the role of covid-19 shutdown and travel restrictions, not only is there a lag now but there's also an anticipation of some 30 million more passport applications coming between now and the end of the year we expect 30 percent of those to be business travelers. we ask congress work with the state department to resume that program of hand carried to work with passport service companies to solve some of that backlog within the passport development and delivery programs. >> that takes nothing more than a decision by the department, is that your understanding ?
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>> that would be my understanding but i would love the feedback of the committee and other witnesses for that. >> and others want to wait in on that question? >> this is tori barnes with us travel and i note that with regards to the visa processing the consulate across the globe have been closed and that's been a negative contributing factor to the processing of these as well so we'd love to see a reopening of those and an expedition of the visas because if we don't start now , as we start to welcome these international travelers back in , in november we're going to have a lot of challenges in actually getting those here to the united states so we'd urge a quick expedition of those visas with regards to the state department now. >> i hope that people are listening in the state department . while we've got you, do you want to talk about how
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helpful the one-stop security program would be and how it would not sacrifice safety protocols at all. >> the pilot program would allow for not more than 10 airports to be able to have a system in place to at least just pilot the safe seamless type of environment for baggage. right now when you, let's say you're coming from paris to dulles international, you would have to check your luggage and if you are going on to kansas city you have to take out your luggage. you have to have it be screened and go back to security. it's a very cumbersome process and it is definitely a deterrent to helping international travelers get to some of these other destinations so a pilot program that would allow the luggage to kind of go through from the point of departure
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so from paris example all the way to kansas city would not only enable better facilitation process but it would also allow sort of the tsa agents in an idea at this point to focus more on the domestic passengers that they need to focus on so it would really streamline the process, create a better facilitation and make for much happier passengers. >> thank you, you stated a very good case for that perhaps other members of the panel can supplement their answer to the same question on the record and i yelled back at him chair. >> i appreciate everyone being here and of course we want to bring back visitors. we want to increase travel spending and want to create jobs. so according to the last las vegas convention and visitors authority, july 2021 was the strongest month for visitation to southern nevada since the start of the pandemic. over 3 million people visited
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the las vegas valley, locklin and mesquite in july of this year but still about 10 percent below the visitation numbers for july 2019 and the low numbers are solely recovering. nevada's unemployment rate still close to eight percent, more than twice the 3.7 percent rate we had a month before the pandemic began and all this due in large part to a drop in visitors and travel spending. so ms. barnes, according to data from us travel, nationwide travel spending in july 2021 was about 98 and a half billion dollars which was a drop of about 6.5 percent below those july 2019 levels. of course in line with decreased visitation. how can the tourism legislation we're putting together here in this omnibus bill , how does it help improve these numbers? what more would you like to
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see in this bill before we bring it to the full committee to create those good paying jobs and travel and tourism to pre-pandemic levels. >> thank you for the question. in the near term it would provide emergency funding for brand usa which would obviously help to accelerate the return of international inbound travel. second in the medium-term the bill would really focus on federal tourism policymaking to ensure there are strategic plans, national goals and coordinated policies in place to restore travel. it would also help to reduce these wait times to improve customs entry experience and make strategic investments in travel infrastructure . in terms of what we could additionally include, we really think that the opportunity to expand the role of the assistant secretary to facilitate us bids to bring in international conferences and events and help develop policies to grow the travel workforce are absolutely critical.
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for example, large conferences and sporting events generate significant export spending and $29 billion export spending generated by itw in 2018 and i noted earlier is the equivalent of the export of 59 owing 747s. so the travel as an export is a significant critically economic driver here in the united states. travel jobs also provide a pathway for the workforce standpoint . to the middle class and many businesses can't find or restore workers so ensuring there are federal policies to support the long-term temporary workforce needs needs to also be a major focus and lastly supporting other measures outside the committee's jurisdiction like the hospitality commerce and jobs recovery act would help accelerate business travel recovery as well .
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>> i'd like to quickly move on to the tour bus impact on airports . of course our harry reid international airport at one point we had about 50 million visitors a year. and now this last july we had 4.1 million visitors and we're nearing pre-pandemic past volumes but we have to prove that and so mister bidwell how can the meaningful guidelines that were set forth in this legislation help with the airports and how can strategic infrastructure investments in improving our airports also address our omnibus bill will provide the travel and tourists in the economy laterin the pandemic . >> thank you chair rosen, airports have a host of operational challenges during thepandemic . they have needed flexibility in complying with security requirements and we sincerely appreciate tsa partners working with their works to provide suchflexibility . and it greatly assist airports when requirements are income focused as opposed
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to overly restrictive. in terms of infrastructure our airports continue to face substantial infrastructure needs. to replace or upgrade aging terminals, security checkpoints and ramps. and other things and adequate infrastructure as the airport fails to meet the growing needs of local businesses and tourists. this jeopardizes the economic recovery of american cities, states and regions. i would just mention that in march 2021 we released an infrastructure report detailing more than $115 billion in infrastructure needs at airports over the next five years. as i noted that tests were of federal agencies applied by aviation industry partners established by the insuring safety and the skies act will help by requiring a coordinated plan where we are better prepared to address the challenges of the recovery and have a roadmap for futurepandemic's .
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>> now i'd like to recognize ranking member scott for his first round of questions's thank you chair rosen, the travel and tourism industry has been acing historically labor shortages. can each of you talk about what you think the reason is in your industry and what your industries are doing to mitigate this ongoing issue. >> missed barnes you want to start? >> i'm happy to start. obviously we've had a workforce shortage that started before the pandemic. there were already challenges that we were facing but given the pandemic and through the front line worker aspect of the virus, we have seen and unfortunately stay-at-home orders that we had at the beginning of the pandemic and the challenges that travel businesses face. a lot of we lost accounted
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for 65 percent and a lot of those have gone on to other jobs, they were either able to find jobs or in some cases maybe they left the workforce altogether so we need to undergo an extensive reconnaissance of what we can do to better attract the labor back to our industry, that they understand these are good jobs that we can have a significant upward mobility and when we are in the process of doing that because we know that there are so many great benefits from being in this industry and so many opportunities for growth. additionally, we really need these jobs. we've got hotels that have scores of hotels, of rooms that they can't clean so they can't have folks stay in those rooms which hurts their revenue. we've got destinations because of business travel and international being so insecure right now.
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challenges with getting folks back because of the lack of certainty. we are looking to dig in to bring these workers back and we're going to put forward a campaign to hurtful to come back to our workforce so a lot needs to be done and that's why some of these incentives is to get more folks traveling, get business travel back in a robust way or help to give security for folks to come back into this workforce. >> thank you, mister shaw. >> with labor across the board it's unfortunate because at certain times you need to be able to have enough people in the hotel during leisure time as well as business time as you know well in florida so the investment we can do is to drive a business travel in the urban markets, we're
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losing so much of our workforce because we just don't have the business. so the tax incentive is to get people traveling and restore conventions and conferences would be critical but some ofthe other things that are important in our industry in trying to attract workers back , folks have increased benefits, things along those lines but we're still seeing some challenges for the industry. the hotel lodging association has put forth a program called hotels are hiring and what the point of the program is to make sure we're providing folks with $1 million in academic and training scholarships to make sure people are ready for this particular workforce because this new type of labor that we're expecting. so the industry has faced a number of challenges but we're optimistic that if congress can put forth motivations to drive more people into our hotel that we will have our workforce ready. >> missed neufang. >> from my perspective i could say 1/8 of our members
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retained all the numbers during the pandemic. that's probably indicative across the board of supply-side and to a lesser extent the buy side. most companies did see their policy decision-makers on staff for what their travel would become and this is primarily a supply-side effect in the pandemic and the uneven effect of international especially national inbound restrictions and we were able to go but not come back. affected us profoundly. i think the other piece is something to consider in driving that demand that the other witnesses have talked about . offices do need to reopen. it gives that place for a meeting to happen and that drives so much travel within the business travel industry . you don't travel in business for esoteric reasons so that meeting location is so very important and i think the
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benefits that come for helping the hospitality industry as well as that workforce and the place where they work, opening up those officesagain means they have a place to work again and that will drive business travel back ina normal sphere as well . >> thank you, mister bidwell . >> thank you for the question. our challenges are not just limited to airports as you noted. tsa is experiencing challenges in hiring transportation security officers. to respond airports have held job fairs which include successful and someairports have also provided incentives . >> thank you chair rosen. >> i'd like to now recognize senator clover chart. >> thank you very much madame chairwoman, thank you for holding this hearing .
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so i'm over at judiciary where were having a number another hearing but i wanted to be on, i think you know how much i care about this inbound international travel has historically been the nations second largest industry. export before the pandemic. thank you, senator scott as well.. so i'm over judiciary where we're having another hearing i'm chairing but i wanted to be on. i think you know how much i care about this inbound international travel has historically been the nation's second largest industry export before the pandemic. as we know we saw 91 percent decrease in international visitors since the pandemic.le and senator blunt and i have long led the bipartisan legislation to continue the funding of brand u.s.a. to in restore some of the funding and i appreciate the work all my colleagues have been doing on ms. barnes, i guess i would start with you. our bill would direct the y secretary of treasury to lo temporarily allow the departmeng of commerce to access critical y funning to help fund brand u.s.a. next year as the travel industry starts to rebound, the recent announcement of allowingh international travelers in, with vaccinations, can you speak to
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the importance of restoring brand u.s.a.? >> absolutely, senator. thank you for the question and for your significant leadership on this important issue. i think one of the benefits of brand u.s.a. is really that it's been funded without american he taxpayer dollars. and the solution that you all have found would enable that to continue. investments in brand u.s.a. ve provide a 25 to 1 return on investment, so we know that the dollars would be put to good use. as you noted the decline in international inbound has been so significant for such a long period of time, for 18 months, that if we are going to be the number one destination of the future, we absolutely need brand u.s.a. to accelerate their work and be able to invite international travelers back to. the u.s. >> i would think it would be especially timely because you want to invite a new group back in, somewa of whom haven't been traveling for a while. we always have the problem we have competitors advertising. until we have brand u.s.a. as
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you know we are hamstrung about what we could do. so as you talked it made me realize the moment matters. as people start traveling again we want them to remember to comb to our country where they've spent an average of how much ms. barnes? >> an average of $4,000 per international visitor and so -- >> mall of america in bloomington, minnesota. >> exactly. is important. >> ith have another question on the, you know, thest recent announcement was great. and maybe this could go to i think maybe you mr. shah, about people flying in and vaccinations, we're all happy about that. there is still a strange situation on my border, the w w canadian border, where we were happy, i worked really hard on this as head of the american canadian group to get av
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acetaminophens and american s now with vaccination able to travel to canada, see their loved ones, stay in hotels, blah, blah. now they can fly to america the canadians who have an over 80% vaccination rate but they can't drive. i was thinking of you mr. shah because especially from a hotel e. perspective, this is a problem. because you can fly to florida from montreal but you can't t drive from thunder bay, canada to duluth. and so you can imagine all of the border states would like the biden administration to change that.. i am hopeful they will soon. there is a group of us on the border really advocating for oud thatyo change, especially when higheraccination rate is than ours. could you comment, mr. shah? >> appreciate that. as somebody who grew up in wisconsin right next door r fr definitely understand the e proximity and frustration where if you can fly but can't drive across in some cases could take hours versus just a couple minutes to come across the border.eske
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so we're hoping with opening up the travel restrictions from the administration we'll be in a better position.ti the most important thing we canl do for the hotel industry right now is to pass the safe hotel jobs act. this is such a critical provision that would provide payroll and benefits to hotel employees so they are able to make it across until travel re resumes. definitely understand the challenges but hopefully this will help protect the hotel industry soon. ec >> okay. q thank you. i'll put the rest of my questions for the other he witnesses on the record and an thank you very much, madame chair. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. next i'd like to recognize senator lund. >> well, thank you, chairman.. i didn't expect to be recognized quite that quickly. i will say as i would have anticipated senator klobuchar asked a number of the questionsr i was going to ask and we have worked closely on these issues for a long
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i do hope that the brand u.s.a. solution we're collectively proposing gets us back in the competition for foreign y travelers. they are important to us. i think, clearly, they're also important not just to our economy but to our relationshipn around the world. it is in so many ways our best diplomatic effort to have people come here and they almost always like us better when they leave e than they thought they would even if they thought they'd likh us a lot when they got and so that's all good.r i would say another thing that senator klobuchar and i have asked the administration to do through the department of commerce is to study the report on the effects that covid-19 had on the travel and tourism industry really to be sure we know what we're doing as we move forward. i think maybe i'd pose to everyg person on the panel starting he with mr. shah, beyond the
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economic impact, which i think we have -- will clearly be in the report, what is another thing or two, mr. shah, you'd like to see in this report as it relates to travel and tourism sm and particularly your industry?o maybe something you wouldn't have anticipated at the beginning of covid-19 that now is obviously one of the ongoing challenges because of covid-19. >> appreciate that question and as a mizzou grad i appreciate your leadership on so many travel and tourism issues during your tenure in the senate. for our industry as we look and appreciate in the tour bus the provision for the study. there are so many issues the industry is facing that we didn't anticipate but predominantly the impact on t jobs. first and foremost of course what is happening in the unevenv nature of the recovery for our industry is really challenging
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because you can't anticipate when we're going to be able to steady stream of visitors come back. a steady stream of guests and people visiting our making sure we understand the trajectory of the pandemic relative to jobs and that is why the save hotel jobs is so critical. the other piece is on tax revenues. the implications of taxes for america's hotels on the local communities they serve is absolutely critical. from federal taxes to property g taxes, sales taxes, all of the taxes folks have to pay but they help uplift local communities of course in doing so. the challenges we are going to see if there is all of a sudden a wave of foreclosures for instance within the hotel udug industry because we don't have e enough guests for folks to meeth their mortgage obligations, e things along thosese lines are going to be a big challenge. and because theay trajectory fo our industryat won't be until 2024, recovery won't be until 2024, there's still a long way to go. we encourage you to take a look
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into both of those areas. >> thank you. ms. barnes? fofo >> thank you, senator. and thank you as always for your tremendous leadership of brand u.s.a. and all issues on the travel industry. i think another thing really to look at is as we look at the future of transportation and travel mobility how some of thes sustainability related issues will impact our industry. before we entered the pandemic we were having in some areas a sort of over tourism issue and we were looking to try to make sure we were encouraging folks e toto look at other related destinations when they would come to a city, for example,. i think as well as we look at the way the auto industry has ls set robust goals for electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicle targets of having all electric fleets by y 2035, that is going change the way that folks drive across the country and the destinations that they are able to go to. and so i think that it is really important that we think about the long-term viability of the industry and the critical
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infrastructure needs thatve we will havesh over the next sever decades. i think that is something along with the items that chirag ng mentioned, the work force piece is another critical issue but we need to be thinking long term about where and how the industry is going to change and how we can be prepared to welcome folka both domestically and internationally for the long term. >> thank you. what about airport, airport security issues, other securityo issues, and really other airport issues that you'd like to see looked at mr. bidwell and the report we've asked for? >> thank you senator for the question. you know, one of the things i think we need to consider is measures to thee greatest extent possible arere targeted d based on science. as an example, the point that senator klobuchar mentioned about the closure of the e northern border.
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many canadians drive to the united states to then fly out of airports close to the border because it is beneficial for them. and the other thing that i would say is that we need to consider all the measures that the aviation industry has implemented to provide for the safety, security, and health of the traveling public and then, last, i would just reiterate a point i made previously during g my opening remarks about the need to ensure ample funding and the appropriate number of transportation security officers and customs and border protection officers to keep pace with the growth in travel and el anticipated growth m international travel. i would note the technology particularly screening technology plays a key component in that.
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>> well, that is a good point. i was actually going to ask the question about the border, too. i'm not sure i would have thought about the importance of access to those airports in our country close to the border. that is a really good point.t. i think i would have pointed oui i could make the argument i me believe that for vaccinated people probably safer to come across in your own car than it is to get in groups of people not to discourage air travel. we all know we all do that and understand it and appreciate it and couldn't live without it. it seemed to me an unreasonable line to draw that you could flyb in but you couldn't drive in n from our neighbor and our important trading partner. ms. neufang, from this global business travel generally what do you think, what would you like to see in the commerce report that looks atway we've we been through and makes recommendations about the future? >> thank you, senator. m i agree with ms. barnes on the sustainability
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i think work places and cfos as well as ceo's and hr departments have woken up to the stainability issues, sometimes using stainability as their excuse not to be traveling again. so we need government to help to support the kinds of sustainable actions around fuel support or benefits ground transportation options that are sustainable in urban centers to get those meetings back to where the urban centers are hurting the most. the second area is around work culture itself. g i think there is a lot of study left to be done on the number of people that started jobs without ever having met their ar counterparts and leaving those jobs during this pandemic when without ever having met a single person in their company and how work place culture and the travel, the commute, the pieces that are part ofof it coming together to meet, to get work done is a primary function of
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humanity and a way that we need to understand what and if any long lasting effects those are and who comes back first. what are their advantages when it comes to commerce and the way they do their business?ons co finally i would say this is at least from what we read in many of the media outlets these days will not be the last pandemic we deal with in our lifetime.ti and so what did we do well in the last 18 months? what could we have done better?t how could we get in front of especially cross border policy, cooperation, and consistency to make sure that we are approaching the next pandemic with as many tools as we have available and making those policies set up so that there is less confusion and less inconsistency in the way that wi process whether it is ground s border crossings or air border, air travel into other borders in the future? so those would be three on my wish list. >> thank you. we'll be sure that the people putting this study vgt have all of that input andnd it's very
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helpful. thank you, chair. >> thank you. next i'd like to recognize asking questions remotely senator sinema. >> thank you so much, madame chair and thank you to our witnesses for joining us today.. tourism represents such an important industry for my home state of arizona. th y in 2019 arizona's tourism industry welcomed more than 46 million overnight that generated over $25 billionr in direct travel spending and it helped support state and local government revenue. the covid-19 pandemic has c created difficult challenges for many arizona communities, small business owners and arizonans who work in the tourism industry. in 2020 spending by domestic and international travelers declined by 41% hurting many local businesses and putting many arizonans out of work. according to the arizona launching and tourism co association covid-19 has wiped out ten years of job growth for arizona tourism.. unfortunately, we're not out ofn the woods yet as increasing covid case numbers are driven by the delta the arizona office of tourism mo reports that tourism spending
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through july 2021 is down $4.5 billion compared to the same period in 2019. given the significant challengeo for arizonans i'll continue to work with my colleagues on this subcommittee to develop bipartisan solutions to these issues and help get arizona's bi tourism industry back to work. my first question is for ms. neufang. arizona is a prime destination for large business and group travel. according to the arizona lodging andd tourism association, business and group travel accounts for more than half of our annual hotel revenue. according to visit tucson since march 2020 the tucson area has ad 149 meetings canceled d resulting in a $48 million loss in economic impact through the region. business phoenix represents el the decline was resulted in ovee $950 million in lost spending. estimates show business travel a
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may not return to pre pandemic levels until 2024. arizonans are seeing that trend. just last week phoenix had three large conventions scheduled for this fall cancel all in one day. can you describe why business and group travel is so important and why the decline hurts arizona's small businesses? >> thank you, senator sinema for that question. my heart goes out to the communities of tucson and phoenix for what is certainly a devastating impact of this virus.ct we are holding our own n convention in the great state od florida in orlando in november and we do get questions every day, are you still holding it? are you still holding it?m so the impact of covid from $1.4 trillion business travel global industry with losses in the 50% range on the u.s. faces a loss of 57% as certainly we've
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gone from a high, high. we were the largest traveling entity in the world as u.s. domestically and outbound. we are, we became one of the ones highly impacted because of the surge and the resurge of the virus. we were actually on a great trajectory in may and june and the beginning of july where we n were seeing in our polling that more companies were coming back to travel, domestically in particular. what we see now for example is that 78% of companies polled just three weeks ago have stopped all international travel for their companies and only 18 with the current state of delta variant were planning to restart that in the next three months. so there is a long hill to climb. there are companies i speak to h who are actually eager to get back on the road again. certain types of travel will be back on the road again.. what we need to do both as th government and industry, we need to celebrate the conferences and
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large meetings that come up without a hitch and my board and i are speaking about that as we speak. we know 2 that lots of conventin centers are indeed putting on very safe conferences and hotels are putting on large conferences of 200 to 800 people all with we the mitigations we need to havee i think we need to celebrate that return and the safety that we are showing as an industry oa how to have a safe meeting and how to carry that forward to stop the panic. because we see some panic at ths moment and we would really like to calm that down again. >> thank you. my next question is for mr. shah. home to 22 national service sites, includingis the grand canyon national park. it is no surprise that many leisure travelers chose to visia arizona. in 2019 this supported over 300,000 jobs. your organization reports a recent increase in the number of covid cases nationwide is discouraging leisure travelers..
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with 55% of respondents reporting they are likely to postpone travel and 42% stating they don't plan to reschedule. so how are arizona hotels and restaurants and other small businesses that cater to tourists affected when leisure travelers opt not to take their trips?es does this compound the effect felt by the decline in business and group travel? >> thank you for the question. absolutely, the uncertainty around the trajectory of the virus, but also the responses and whether or not people are going to gather really lendshe this. as far as leisure travelers, because people are uncertain as to whether or not they feel comfortable with travel, that is one of the biggest challenges and why half of all leisure travelers are starting to postponed or cancel trips and that isca compounding the issue with business i travelers, as there is soo much uncertainty yr saw with business travel a number of companies decided that they were going to move back when they were going to come back de to work. and that's become even more
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indefinite. we've seen this from various units of government as well. there isn't a consistent f response from the federal government to state governments to local governments.. so it is very difficult for anya entity to really put out a mark and follow that guideline. so once there is additional th certainty between -- that will drive up confidence as far as whether folks will be out and able to travel, but that again the impact goes back to the jobs in the lodging industry. and because of that uncertainty, because you can't have guests seven days a week, it is very difficult to have a work force that is there and provide them h with enough work to do for thoss seven days and that is why we're asking for congress's help to bridge the gap until travel p 's returns. that is why we're asking them to pass the save hotel jobs act. >>er thank you. my next question is for mr. bidwell. before the pandemic we saw record levels of airline passenger traffic which put in pressure on existing infrastructure. this increased and highlighted the need to improve runways and terminals and air traffic we
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control towers to prevent overcrowding and delays. the bipartisan infrastructure investment and jobs act legislation i introduced in then united states senate included $25 billion for our nation's airports.. this will help airports upgrade their runways and taxiways as well as terminals and air traffic control facilities. as airports continue to respond to the challenges of the covid pandemic, why is this infrastructure funding so rg important for both our large and smaller airports in arizona? >> senator, thank you very much for the question. our airports continue to face substantial infrastructure needs in march acina released an infrastructure report detailing1 more than $115 billion in ne infrastructure needs at airports over the next five years. this includes $2 billion in arizona. the important thing to note is
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coupled with the current debt burden of nearly $90 billion from past projects, the report shows that our airports are falling further behind in their efforts to upgrade their er facilities and improve the th overall experience for their er customers. we are very grateful for your work and the senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill, which e includes $20 billion in new funding over the next five years for airports. this funding has broad flexibility to address a variety of projects that are needed that you mentioned, but we really need to look at the longer term after this one-time capital infusion, you know, takes effect and plan for consistent funding to ensure that airports have the ability to pay for infrastructure projects going forward. and we certainly look forward to working with you and other members of the committee on that long-term effort.
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thank you. >> thank you. madame chair i apologize. i just noticed my time is expired.xpir i thank you for your indulgence. >> thank you. appreciate that.. i'd like to build a little bit upon what everyone has been n talking about.ce conferences.bu conventions.ll business travel.e i don't have to tell anybody about the great conferences and conventions we have in las vegas, some of the most greatest conventions in the world. of course ranking member scott and i have a lot of competitiont there and all of the conventions are great. whatever city they are in. our community need them. bav that spending on business travel in 2019 was over $334 billion, approximately. as we learned from ms. neufang's testimony of course and i don't have to tell you, i don't need any statistics, business travel
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is down. conventions are down. there is uncertainty out there. senator sullivan, he has the visit america act of which i am a proud cosponsor but help address this problem by creating an assistant secretary position within the department of commerce focused on bolstering america's travel and tourism industry and coordinating strategies across multiple federal agencies.lkar b so ms. neufang would you talk about the impact that creating this assistant secretary position could have on travel and particularly the business and convention travel as mr. shah spoke to we need that reliability. those are the mid week travelers, right, that keep the hotels open during the week for our leisure travelers to come on so ms. neufang?ne >> indeed. thank you, senator rosen. the crux of the matter is we it very much support that.t with yesterday's announcement of the ending of the travel ban on
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certain travelers to the u.s. it really becomes even more important our messaging across the board be cohesive, consistent, travelers need the one stop shop from messaging in order to understand what travel requirements are and whether borders are open and how they'rr open so the creation of an assistant secretary position will allow for the cross business collaboration to ensure travelers have the information they need to resume their travels to the u.s. i also just referred to safe conventions and being able to crow a bit about how safe they actually i think this office would actually help with that cohesive message. additionally it is also important for that office to set and pursue goals to increase in international inbound travel to the u.s.titi this is a daunting task in the current environment. come from a screeching halt to go to business as usual again. but having an office like this within the administration to to pursue this is vital to our success in my opinion.
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>> thank you. i have one more question and then i'll yield to senator scott.yi i want to talk about travel and tourism at the department of transportation. i know some of you have talked about coming to a meeting. how do you get there? do you drive? if you come in an airport what is the transportation to get tr where you need? of course the senate passed an infrastructure bill which includes my bill to update the national travel and tourism strategic plan from the department of transportation to consider the impacts of covid-19 but we also want to lay out infrastructure investments that we need to help our tourism industry. fixing our interstates, mass transit, trains, tour bus, our o bill is called the tour bus. we have a robust tour bus bu industry, rail service options, ports for the state of florida, and ms. barnes, again, would you speak to the need of this kind of focus by the department in as infrastructure investment to
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really how good that would be for the industry and if you want to speak a little bit about anything you know about and the infrastructure bill that we jusu passed it would really be beneficial to the tourism industry. >> sure. absolutely. thank you for your leadership there. we really do believe that it is critical. we have a national program to move freight but we don't have a national program to move people. that's what the work in n provisions that were included in that bipartisan infrastructure package would do. i think establishing a chief travel and tourism officer at t the department of transportation will really help ensure the ns travel related projects are competitive to receive federal e funds. we need that collaboration, cross agency cooperation that was obviously noted in the travel america act but by having a leadership role at the ta
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department of transportation as well, and really prioritizing the way that we look at the travel industry and how we get around is really, really critical. you know, we talked a little bit about how domestic travel is doing better and this is really, we focused on business travel oi and international and domestic can't prop up business and international. we need a comprehensive way to look at all of these different segments that are so critical to the whole of our industry. and they're all vital to being able to return and accelerate a recovery. if we want to be able to recover sooner than the next four or five years, we need these types of programs in place and this op type of leadership at the top of these agencies. your legislation and the work on you all have done would really enable us to expedite those critical programs. >> thank you. senator scott? >> thank you chair rosen. mr. bidwell, i was surprised to
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hear how big the number is as ar far as infrastructure needs our airport industry has. you know, i guess there are different ways to pay for it. we can either have the user pay for it, the flying public, our consumers. we could have the local community which gets the benefit out of a robust airport system, or weta could have the federal taxpayers paynu for it that wou allocate among users ? and non e erls. what would you recommend the best way to fund infrastructure for our airports?tiusers. what would you recommend the best way to fund infrastructure for our airports? >> senator, thank you very much for the question. one of the things we have been very supportive of as a potential solution to this lutin challenging issue of the need for funding to support infrastructure projects at o airports is to modernize the passenger security fee..
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these are fees collected locally by users of the system and they are also used locally to invest in these types of infrastructure projects that benefit travelers at those local airports.xp whether it is expanding securith check points or doing some of ie the projects that senator sinema mentioned earlier, a modernized security charge would go a long way to addressing the challenge we have in identifying available funding to support infrastructure projects. >> can each airport decide what the passenger fee is for that airport? >> now, the passenger facility charge has been capped by ye congress for years and is in greatre need of moderna modernizationn in deciding how
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that funding when collected is allocated, itt is really a coordinated effort between the federal aviation administration and the airlines also have input on the projects that it is allocated toward. >> so if the orlando airport or the las vegas airport wanted to have a separate fee to modernize their airport they don't have the ability to do that? >> not to impose a user fee similar to the passenger facility charge.ey ce belt i mean, they collect money from a revenue from other things but that has been significantly diminished as a result of the pandemic. whether it is concessions s revenue or revenue from parking or other things of that nature,a it's down significantly right now, which is why finding other sources such as modernizing the passenger facilitate charge is so critical. >> thank you. thank you chair rosen.
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>> thank you. we were trying to wait for senator blackburn, but i'm not sure she'll be able to make it. so we will have her submit her questions for the record. i want to thank everyone so much for participating in today's hearing.g.d i look forward to working with ranking member scott, chair cantwall, ranking member wicker and all the members to use what we've learned today to finalize our bipartisan omnibus tourism legislation so we can bring it before the full committee for a vote. today's hearing was a great step in that direction. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks until tuesday, october 5th, 2021. i'd like to submitt for the record a a letter from the american society of travel advisors, and i i guess i get t approve that for myself as well. any senators of course that wish to submit questions for the record or anything else should do by tuesday, october 5, 2021. for those of you who testified today, we ask that your e responses be returned to the e committee as quickly as possible
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and in no case later than two weeks after receipt.s s that concludes today's hearing.
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>>. [inaudible conversation]
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>>. [inaudible conversation] special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction john sopko testifies. live coverage today on c-span3. also watch online or with our new video app. c-span now. >> download c-span's new mobil


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