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tv   Senate Hearing on Travel Tourism During Coronavirus Pandemic  CSPAN  April 27, 2021 4:38pm-6:27pm EDT

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>> as he approaches his 100th
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day in office, president biden will give his first address to a joint session of congress wednesday night. i live coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern with the president's address at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org, or listen on the c-span radio app. >> the senate commerce subcommittee on tourism, trade, and export promotion holds a hearing on the state of travel and tourism during the coronavirus pandemic. this was the first hearing held by the newly formed subcommittee chaired by senator jacky rosen, democrat of nevada. this hearing runs an hour and 45 minutes.
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>> welcome to the inaugural hearing of the newly formed subcommittee on tourism, trade, and export promotion. i'd like to think senator rick scott, the ranking member of the subcommittee, for agreeing to work with me in a bipartisan way on the critical issues that are important to workers, businesses, and families in both of our states and across the country. i look forward to a productive
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partnership. i would also like to think chair cantwell and ranking member wicker for their tremendous leadership on a green to establish the subcommittee at a time when travel, tourism, hospitality needs more support than ever before. we can drive job creation in states across america, especially in nevada where industries are essential to our states prosperity. from the excitement of the las vegas strip to the exquisite opportunities at lake tahoe. prior to the pandemic, about 55 million people visited the silver state, which is a record-setting figure.
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the las vegas area alone, visitor spending reached almost $37 billion, directly support and more than 242,000 workers in the tourism, leisure, and hospitality industry. those jobs account for about 9% of all u.s. jobs, a major slice of the nation's economy, and in nevada, we employ about one quarter of our workforce. tourism is our lifeblood. this pandemic has hit nevada particularly hard. it brought our tourism economy screeching to a halt and decimated the jobs that these industries support. in april of 2020, the unemployment rate in nevada was the highest in our state's history and the worst in the nation. it skyrocketed to almost 30%. 30% unemployment. they were unemployed through no fault of their own. it was all because of the covid
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19 pandemic. that contributed to the worst economic downturn. the employee retention tax credit, direct aid to restaurants, and unemployment relief have helped to support tourism businesses and workers in in this difficult period, but far more needs to be done. now it's time to bring this industry back to its pre-pandemic economic strength. we are going to get americans and the world traveling again. today's inaugural hearing, entitled "the state of travel and tourism during covid," will examine the economic impacts of the pandemic on the travel and tourism industries with a particular focus on hotels and
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the broader hospitality industry. we will discuss regional impacts of the pandemic on tourism heavy economies like nevada's and florida's and those communities disproportionately affected by covid-19's resulting economic downturn. we have a panel of wonderful witnesses to share their expertise, provide insight and recommendations. we will hear from witnesses representing the las vegas visitors authority, mgm resorts international, u.s. travel association, florida restaurants and lodging. i hope the subcommittee will paint a robust understanding of the current needs of our nation's and tourism industry so we can craft the most effective and targeted solutions to revive our economy and support the travel and tourism industry.
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the travel and tourism industry has many components, and while the focus of today is prepare only hotels, conventions, and the hospitality industry, ranking member scott and i will ensure this subcommittee hears from key stakeholders across the board over the next few months. we will hear from our airports and others about the pandemic's impact on international travel. we will examine the outdoor recreation economy and ecotourism. we will raise the voices of small businesses, hospitality workers, and live entertainment. thank you for being here today. i look forward to hearing each of you share your experiences. i turn it over to ranking member scott for his opening statement. senator scott?
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thank you, chair rosen. we both come from states where we know the importance of having robust tourism. we had a number you -- unbelievably beautiful space, and they represented nevada well. it's a great place to take a vacation. i want to think our witnesses for sharing their experiences. i finished a couple years ago as governor of florida. i worked hand in hand with florida. she is truly a champion for our tourism industry in our state. i want to thank chair cantwell
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and ranking member wicker for giving us the opportunity to do this. it's an honor to lead this subcommittee with senator rosen. i look forward to the work we are going to do to drive our tourism and trade sectors to economic success. as you heard, some of our states have gotten hurt because of what has happened with the pandemic. during my time as governor, we invested quite a bit of state money. we went from 80 million tourists a year to 126 million tourists. we share tourism records and create lots of jobs. i'm sure the same thing happens in nevada.
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it's a real driver for economic development in both of our states. our state has 15 seaports. it's the gateway to latin america. florida has become a hub for businesses for import and export. we try to move all the business we can out of california and into florida. it's grown to $154 billion a year. in 2016, exports supported an estimated 232,000 american jobs. the trade jobs are big jobs. we invested about $1.4 billion in our ports. all of this has impacted every one of us and our families, and all of us have tried to figure out how to deal with this, keep our businesses safe, employees safe. i've heard from small businesses around the state that rely on
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the tourism industry that have been devastated by the pandemic. while i'm glad florida is open for business, the uncertainty of when the tourism industry will reopen in other states has clearly impacted those states, and it has impacted us. i know everyone is working hard to keep their businesses going and be able to employ everybody again, and i hope that happens quickly. as our nation tries to get things back on track, i'm going to do everything we can to support the tourism industry in florida. i'm focused on what happens in puerto rico. now covid-19. we've worked hard to make sure there is good aid for puerto rico's recovery. i've been working on a lot of bills, like senator rosen has. i have my bipartisan canine
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covid detection act, which instruct the tsa to conclude -- conduct a feasibility study on the use of k-9 units, which have been texting covid, and provide an opportunity to make people feel safer flying. we've got to get people back in the air. we have a bipartisan bill with chair cantwell to enable a temperature check pilot program at airports. i introduced the careful resumption under improved safety and enhancement act with senator sullivan and senator rubio to help our cruise industry restart . i guess you don't have a lot of cruises. >> they cruise up and down the las vegas strip. >> you've got a lot of water. >> we do. >> it's been frustrating. the cruise industry has been waiting for months on guidance from the cdc. i think it is wrong what has
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happened. we've got to give the cruise industry the terms, and they will reopen safely. i know the industry wants to do it safely. i want to make sure that happens. i look forward to working with all of my colleagues to grow tourism, not just in nevada, florida, but even in beautiful states like mississippi. >> thank you, senator scott. i'd like to introduce our ranking member. >> thank you. i share that sentiment with you. there were a number of tourism opportunities. more and more people are coming to visit, as well as our other traditional tourism sites, but
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thank you for holding this hearing today to hear you're industry perspectives. this is a great topic with a new tourism and trade promotion subcommittee. i suspect this committee will be busy, and i look forward to participating. the industry is a key pillar of the american economy. this industry supported roughly 16 million jobs and generated $1.1 trillion in consumer spending, accounting for over $2.5 trillion in economic output. nearly 40% of the total u.s. jobs lost during the pandemic have been in leisure and hospitality employment.
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congress ought to provide much-needed support to help the industry recover. the cares act provided a urgently needed relief to travel and tourism businesses in the forms of grants and lines of credit. the fifth covid relief bill, which passed in december, expanded the industry access to many of these relief programs. more recently, the american rescue plan act provided $750 million to the economic development administration impacted by the loss of travel. additionally, the bill included $28.6 billion restaurant revitalization fund modeled after the bipartisan restaurants act, which i drafted with my friend senator sinema. the small business
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administration has been tasked with standing up the restaurant fund, and the es pa start allocating grants very soon. resources should help to shore up the tourism sector, but i recognize the impacts of the pandemic will be long-lasting. i hope our witnesses will update the committee on the current status of the travel and tourism industry. how the increasing availability of covid-19 vaccines affects opportunities for recovery, and ways the public and private sectors can partner to help restore demand for travel as the public health situation improves . it may take years to restore travel and tourism to its pre-pandemic levels, but i hope not. i'm hopeful this subcommittee can identify bipartisan opportunities to help the sector heal and prosper much sooner. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator wicker,
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and i appreciate you being a chairman and ranking member. i'd like to welcome via webx senator cortez masto. she's a tireless advocate for the travel and tourism industry, and i'd like to have her introduce to the subcommittee our first guest. >> thank you so much. ranking member scott, i appreciate the opportunity to join you today. it is great to be back in the commerce committee i enjoyed serving on when i first came to the senate. the committee does great work promoting our science, transportation sectors and gives congress the ability to hold hearings on important sectors like this one, tourism. as you know, tourism is vital to the economic health of our country.
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i appreciate you bringing these experts to talk about the importance of the travel industry to nevada and to the nation. all of you participants are great partners and leaders in the travel industry, which has been hard-hit by the covid-19 pandemic. i've been working in a bipartisan way on a recovery act with senator cramer, along with a bipartisan act with senator klobuchar. with that, i appreciate the chance to be here and introduce steve hill. steve has been an economic champion in nevada for many years. since being named the ceo and president of the las vegas visitors authority, stephen has done a great job of creating opportunities for southern nevada to be a more inviting place for our visitors every
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year. from completion of the convention center expansion to the innovative people mover system, and now, weathering this health and economic crisis, steve has been a solid and steady hand working to bring us out of this critical challenge to our state and local economy. i appreciate his partnership on many efforts we've worked on as the nevada delegation, and i appreciate the committee bringing his expertise in for a hearing today. thank you. >> thank you, senator cortez masto. that was a very kind introduction, and thank you, chair rozen, ranking member scott, for inviting me to be here today. i don't know if it is appropriate to congratulate you on the formation of this
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subcommittee, but it seems like the right thing to do. i'd like to congratulate you and add the appreciation of our industry for doing so. we have great supporters in senator cortez masto. they represent our tourism industry well. in the senate, we've appreciated being able to work with them on much of the legislation they've sponsored on behalf of the travel industry. thank you very much. i am going to emphasize some of the things you have already said. our industry is central to the u.s. economy. it is a big part of the u.s. economy, and it is critical to the recovery of the u.s. economy. the industry supports 16 million jobs in the united states, one
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in every nine jobs. it's one of the seven largest industries in the country, and it was certainly the industry most affected by the pandemic. there's a big enough impact that it is felt through all of our communities. it affects our providers, and that is from those that you think of initially from restaurants and local attractions, but also the cab drivers and construction workers who set up trade shows. tourism is a significant driver in every state, but this is particularly true in nevada where, as senator rosen mentioned, hospitality supports 1-4 nevada jobs, 2.5 times the national average. las vegas convention of visitors
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authority is a unique organization and that we are the only entity in a major city in the united states to serve as an organization and convention bureau. our mission expanded over the last year including doing what we can to limit the effect of the pandemic. we provided space for courtrooms, for addiction assistance, and we were glad to be part of all of those efforts. we recently purchased the monorail system after it was forced to close during the pandemic. we needed to preserve this important transportation system.
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you may have seen last week, we showcased the boring company's innovative transportation system, which now runs underneath the campus of our convention center. we are looking forward to both recovery and return to prosperity. we do hope to be able to speed that up. people in this industry need that. they need their jobs back. our student local governments need the tax revenue they count on. our customers need to travel. they need to see the family and friends they have not seen in the last year. they need to experience a new culture and frankly, just to set aside what has happened over the last year and get away for a few days. the first step of the recovery, as you mentioned, will be moving
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beyond the health crisis and continuing the vaccination process. we need to get to the point now where socially distancing is no longer necessary. like many destinations, las vegas does not work well without a crowd. we are optimistic that we are on the cusp of that. once beyond the health crisis, our industry will be faced with a situation equivalent to the depths of the great recession. that will be where we are once we get past the health crisis and are simply dealing with the economic fallout as a result. domestic and leisure travel will recover first, and it is already doing so. we are seeing strength there. but business travel and
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international travel will certainly take longer. we have received a good portion of our funding through a fixed percentage of wind tax. typically we would receive about $300 million a year. for our current fiscal year, we will receive about 100 million dollars. we are projecting next year that will receive about 70% of our normal tax revenue. we will show improvement, but only about halfway to where we need to be over the next four months. i will just mention the transportation and transportation infrastructure. i was honored to serve on the national advisory committee on
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travel and tourism infrastructure a couple of years ago. the report was relatively brief and contained a focused set of recommendations. the key recommendation was to create a national travel infrastructure strategy. corridors of regional significance need to be a focus of that strategy, and the importance of i-15 can be seen in the makeup of this committee where half of this committee represents areas affected by it. we look forward to working with you on the formation in the last 15 pockets of congress. i would like to thank you,
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ranking member scott, all the members of the committee, for the opportunity to be before you today. thank you for all you have done and all you will do for the travel industry. >> [indiscernible] mr. perez oversees the strategic direction for eight of mgm's resort properties. mr. perez is an industry veteran with 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. mr. perez, i recognize you for your opening remarks. mr. perez: good afternoon. thank you, chairwoman rosen, ranking number scott, members of this subcommittee. i appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony and to share
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some of our experiences during some challenging years. mgm resorts international is a global entertainment company with 29 unique hotels and gaming destinations. last year was one of the most difficult years ever faced in our industry, but our company, and by our employees. mgm first felt the impact of the pandemic at our properties in macau and shortly thereafter our vegas properties, leaving the strip closed for the first time in its history. we had to furlough a significant portion of our workforce. our company and team members
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sought ways to demonstrate compassion with one another and for the most impacted in our communities. we provided extended health benefits for our employees and families. we disperse over 15.5 million dollars to help employees during the pandemic, and we think -- within days of shutting down, we donated hundreds of thousands of meals to those in need and help procure much needed ppe for our medical professionals, including masks, gowns, and gloves. we continue to focus on our commitment to the communities that have welcomed us, to give generously to our neighbors. while it has been a year of hardship, it has also been a year of innovation and change. we drastically overhauled our operations. our health and safety plan
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included plexiglas dividers, digital innovations, the ability for our guests to check in via mobile phone, enhanced hvac protocols, temperature testing for team members and guests, and rapid covid-19 tests for our events, just to name a few. we appreciate continued leadership and support of the federal government. the coronavirus relief bills passed by congress, like so many around the country, are fully in place. now expending these efforts to the country's travel and tourism industries that have been hit
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particularly hard. at the current pace, the industry is not expected to fully recover until 2025, but we are hopeful the recovery will occur much sooner. there are key initiatives that will allow a speedy recovery. one of the biggest policies for the travel and tourism industry is the bipartisan legislation, the hospitality and commerce drive recovery act of 2021, which provides various tax credits. we also welcome the safe,
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compliance-based easing of restrictions which will allow us to bring our amenities to a greater number of guests, allowing us to bring back more land flows. it will enable us to maintain focus on our guests. vaccination is a critically important tool in helping the economic recovery. we are committed to doing anything to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible by removing barriers to access. there is reason for cautious optimism. we look forward to a world without restriction in helping our guests celebrate life to its fullest.
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chair rozen: thank you, mr. perez. testifying next is the executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the u.s. travel association. ms. barnes is here with us today in person and i recognize you for your opening remarks. ms. barnes: thank you, chair rozen, -- chair rosen, ranking number scott, and members of the subcommittee. we are the only association that represents all sectors of the travel industry, and i'm very happy 2 be here in person and grateful for the leadership you are putting forward here today. before the pandemic, 1.1 trillion dollars in travel spending generated 2.6 trillion dollars economic impact and supported 16 million american jobs.
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this came to a halt at the onset of the pandemic. last year, travel spending fell 42%, costing the economy $500 billion. international inbound visitation declined 76%, and business travel spending l 70%. additionally, 5.6 million travel supported jobs were lost, accounting for 65% of all jobs lost to the pandemic. at the state level, nevada, florida, and washington state suffered travel spending declines of more than what he. travel spending fell more than 20% in mississippi. currently, the travel industry is expected to take up to five years to recover from this crisis, and that is far too long to wait. while we expect a mystic leisure travel to recover quickly, the full rebound is not certain. professional meetings and events, which are the travel industry's largest generator of
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spinning revenue, are still restricted in many states. this sector is projected to take four years to recover, and with our borders still closed too much of the world, international travel to the u.s. will take as many as five years to return to pre-pandemic levels with the uncertainty around reopening, it could be even longer. u.s. travel has identified four key priorities to restore travel demand, accelerate rehiring, and shorten the recovery timeline. first, we must safely and quickly reopen international travel. we have the right protections in place to safely reopen, but we don't have clear public health benchmarks for a definitive timeline -- our -- or a definitive timeline. u.s. travel urged the biden administration to develop by this may a road map and a timeline for lifting entry restrictions with the goal of reopening international travel by july. we can start by establishing public health corridors between
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the u.s. and other low risk countries such as the united kingdom. second, the cdc should provide clear guidance to lift restrictions and safely restart professional meetings and events. nearly all sectors of the economy have clear guidelines to allow them to reopen amid the pandemic. business meetings are distinct from other mass gatherings due to the level of control that can be implemented. and should not remain closed while the rest of the economy is given the green light to reopen. third, congress should enact the hospitality and commerce jobs recovery act, to spur demand and accelerate rehiring. this bill would increase travel demand among low to middle income families by providing targeted and temporary refundable tax credits to travel, while also helping to boost demand, spending and rehiring. the bill would also provide refundable tax credits to encourage professional meetings and events to restart. further, oxford economics estimates that enacting this bill would shorten the recovery timeline from five years to just three. while creating an incremental 1.5 million jobs and generating
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nearly 6$600 billion in spending. fourth, congress should provide temporary emergency funding for brand usa. america's destination marketing organization. over the last seven years, brand usa's marketing efforts generated a 26 to 1 return on investment for the u.s. economy. however, the drastic decline in collections due to international travel restrictions combined with scarce private sector contributions during the economic crisis have decimated the program's funding. if brand usa is unable to continue its important work, international travel recovery will be severely limited. specific policies can also be implemented to improve the industry's long-term competitiveness and ensure that we come back stronger than ever. these policies include passing the visit america act, which senator sullivan introduced last year, to elevate travel
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leadership in the federal government. this would strengthen the commerce department's role in coordinating federal travel policies and set consistent national goals and strategies to boost travel exports. finally, investing in our country's infrastructure will help facilitate travel and better prepare us to welcome back visitors from around the world. by prioritizing infrastructure, investments now, the u.s. can emerge from the pandemic and rebuild the travel industry with stronger, more connected systems than ever before. we need the federal government to enact the right policies to ensure all sectors of travel can recover as quickly as possible and any delay in reopening any segment will only hurt our economy further. thank you again for inviting the travel industry to testify today on such a devastating economic impact of the pandemic, and i welcome your questions. thank you. chair rosen: thank you, ms.
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barnes. our final witness is carol dover, president and ceo of the florida restaurant and lodging association. ms. dover also serves as a member of several boards including the board of directors for the national restaurant association, counsel of state restaurant associations and international society of hotel association executives. ms. dover, i recognize you via webex for your opening remarks. thank you, chair cantwell. ranking member wicker and subcommittee chair rosen and ranking member scott and other distinguished members, for the opportunity to be here to represent florida's hospitality industry. for more than 26 years i have led the florida restaurant and lodging association, frla, which represents over 10,000 members from the biggest names in hotels, restaurants, theme parks to small, independent operators and suppliers. hospitality and tourism is the largest industry in florida, and it is the economic engine of our state.
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in 2019 a record-setting 131 million visitors added nearly $97 billion to florida's economy. tourism was florida's largest employer with over 1.5 million employees. before covid, our nearly $112 billion hospitality industry was booming with hundreds of new hotels, thousands of new restaurants, and we were on track to set new records. when covid hit we were shell-shocked. more than 62% of florida's hospitality employees were furloughed or laid off. hotels, restaurants, bars, cruise lines, theme parks shut down. air travel stopped. business conferences and large events were cancelled. the frla went into overdrive to help our members survive, interpreting executive orders and serving as an information clearing house. we helped our workers get ppe and other covid supplies.
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we were heavily engaged with our state and federal leaders and are grateful for the support of senators scott and rubio. we were blessed to work closely with governor desantis byassisting to create guidelines and safety protocols to get our industry reopened. there were many creative solutions that our industry embarked upon from opening groc-eraunts to picking up dining tables in parking lots. alcohol-to-go became a critical revenue source for restaurants, and we are working now with the florida legislature to try to make that permanent. we worked with our national association partners on federal relief packages that have been critical to our survival. our industry is also facing historic workforce challenges.
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although we are allowed to operate at 100% capacity in florida, we can't find staff. simply put, we're competing with state and federal unemployment benefits. workers tell us that they make too much money on unemployment to return to work, so businesses are forced to limit capacity, shorten their hours without adequate staff to serve guests. florida is open for business, but we're desperate for workers. covid has decimated the u.s. tourism industry which suffered more than $500 billion in pandemic-related losses. half of the u.s. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty this year, and hotel employment will not come back until at least 2023. business travel, the single largest source of hotel revenue, will remain down 85%, and it is going to take years to recover.
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thousands of hotels have closed and have been foreclosed. florida had the second highest hotel job loss in the nation behind california. restaurants have also been shattered, from nationwide shutdowns to ban on indoor dining to misleading claims about the safety of restaurants, 2020 ended with total sales that were $240 billion less than projections. nationally, more than 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed and 600,000 of them were in florida. more than 110,000 restaurants closed permanently, including over 10,000 of those in florida. nationally, the restaurant industry lost nearly 2.5 million jobs. we are hopeful that ppp, tax credits and the recently passed restaurant revitalization fund, have been huge victories. the rrf will provide $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants who desperately need it. thank you, ranking member wicker and committee member sinema for your bipartisan work for creating the restaurant act to keep us open. travel, tourism and the hospitality industries have faced the worst years in
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history. in florida we understand emergencies, but there was no playbook for covid-19 and nothing has ever tested us like this. we love creating memorable experiences for guests that keep coming back, but we need for them to be able to come back. international visitors, cruises, business travel, we are working to rebuild this industry that we love so dearly. we are hospitality strong, but we have no problem asking for your help, and we still desperately need your support as we rebuild. thank you, chair, and i will be happy to take any questions that
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you may have. chair rosen: well, thank you so much for your opening remarks. i really appreciate everyone's thoughtful opening remarks because senator scott and i believe that we must get americans traveling again. so as we've discussed several times, travel and tourism, of course, are the life blood of nevada's economy. covid-19, like you all have said, has taken a toll on our workers across this nation, on our businesses and on our communities. but with more americans getting vaccinated and the cdc giving the green light for safe travel, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. but to fully recover and bring back the jobs lost, the industry, we must bring it back to pre-pandemic levels. we need to get americans and the world traveling again.
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that means making sure that people from across the country and across the globe know that our tourism destinations, well, they are open for business. so, mr. perez, can you talk about the importance of out-of-state and international travelers to mgm's success and that of its workforce, and i would say all of our hotels and the success of its workforce, please? mr. perez: sure, madam chair. let me start off first with the regional properties. you know, we are in seven different states, some in the northeast, mid-atlantic and down senator wicker's neck of the woods, down in mississippi. for those properties, most of our business comes from an hour's drive and we were a bit more insulated, barring the closure obviously, but we were a bit more insulated than las vegas because the barriers of travel were just easier. you could jump in your car and not have to deal with airfare and that sort of thing. las vegas, and i will parallel that to with we have two semi destinations resorts, one of
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which is in biloxi, mississippi. that property also was hampered more as compared to the other seven as an example. it behaved a little more like las vegas. also in atlantic city, that had similar recovery as near las vegas, but nowhere near as devastating. to your point, and you have heard the testimony from the panelists, getting customers comfortable with air travel primarily is paramount. it is going to take some time to get international travel to come back in earnest, particularly in las vegas, which is vitally important. we know those customers stay longer. they enjoy our restaurants, they enjoy our casinos, they enjoy our shows, they spend quite a bit on retail, and they're vitally important to nevada and the las vegas economies. so anything that we can do certainly to reduce those barriers would be incredibly helpful, especially for las
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vegas. chair rosen: thank you. mr. hill, i would like to ask you a similar question, but really about our conventions. we know that conventions, business travel is a life blood of not just las vegas but sole other cities across the country. so how do you feel about what can we do to bring that eco-tourism back? what do we need and its importance to our communities? mr. hill: well, thank you, chair rosen. ranking member scott earlier mentioned the connection between tourism and economic development, and i would just add that really tourism is economic development, too. it brings money in from outside of our state, into our state. it creates those, you know, 26% of the jobs in nevada. it is the economic engine for our state and domestic and international tourists are what make that possible. back, you know, a year ago or a little longer ago when we were trying to get from 87% room occupancy, 90%, that concept seemed maybe not as important as what we went through when we shut down for ten weeks and
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didn't have any visitors in nevada. as you pointed out, we suffered the worst unemployment rate of any state in history during that period of time. so it is -- our domestic and international travelers are what make this state go, and we need to do everything we can to allow them to return.
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i know everyone is. from a meetings and convention perspective, we are excited to have i think the first large trade show in the united states returning to our convention center in early june, the world of concrete by informa, a publicly traded firm that is one of the biggest customers of las vegas. it is a show that typically has 50,000, 60,000 attendees. we don't think it will be that size, but it will be a major show and we look forward not only to that show returning but it serving as evidence and an example of how to do this right, and we're excited about that. international visitation is a big component of visitation, both from a business traveler's standpoint as well as a leisure traveler. we enjoy about 15% in a normal year of visitation from our international fans, and that has
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been almost completely shutdown and has not really started to recover at this point. as ms. barnes mentioned, working to get those visitors back, working on a method so that they can have confidence in their travel plans and be able to confidently make those trips we think is critically important. chair rosen: thank you. now recognize ranking member scott. ranking member scott: thank you, chair rosen. i want to thank each of the witnesses for your testimony. ms. dover, in your written testimony you state that the travel and tourism industry is facing historic labor shortages which could significantly restrict the industry from recovering from the severe downturn. could you share the reasons behind them? would you be able to give examples from your members as well as what they've done to mitigate this issue, and just go ahead and talk about some of the challenges your members are
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facing with regard to labor shortages. ms. dover: thank you very much, senator scott. so as i stated in my other statement that we're in competition with our unemployment system, so many people are making more money staying home and we're having a really tough time getting people to even want to apply for jobs. we have been hosting job fairs. some of our members are even offering bonuses, and people are still not showing up to apply for the jobs. just a couple of examples, senator, that we're hearing from our members, i have a member yesterday who was telling me that they haven't had their garbage picked up in almost a week and so this is bigger than just the hotel and restaurant industry. the waste management industry, they don't have drivers. we got notice from our food distribution companies and our beverage companies that they may
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not be receiving their products in a timely manner because they too don't have enough drivers applying for jobs. so one of the things that we are in hopes is that we can find between both state and federal, clearly unemployment is important for many people, but there are so many jobs available right now that if we could go back to a system where you used to have to show that you had applied and been turned down for several jobs, three jobs i believe is what it was in florida, that if we could reverse some of those mandates, then i believe that we could begin to see people want to go back to work. so we are desperate, and anything that you all can do in congress to help us relieve this burden, i hear from my colleagues all across the country that it is not just a florida issue, that it is everywhere. so thank you for asking and allowing me the opportunity to talk to you about our very critical labor shortage. ranking member scott: so, ms. dover, so if somebody -- if an employer tells an employee that they have a job opening, and my understanding nationwide we have 7.4 million job openings. if an employer says they have a job opening, does the employee -- are they able to continue on unemployment or do they -- are they required to come back to
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work? ms. dover: well, they're not required, senator, is my understanding to come back to work. they can make the decision. what we're trying to also do education to many of the people who are not coming back to work is to remind them that these jobs will not be available forever. i mean we have all -- you have heard us all today on the panel talk about the need to rebound, and we will rebound. we are a resilient country, and we will rebound. but one day these jobs that people are turning down won't be available anymore. so we're reminding people to take these jobs while they're available. unemployment in florida is already down to a little over 4%. so it is not long before, you know, we're going to be in a very low unemployment and nearly an unemployable. so hopefully we can get people to see that we have great jobs available. florida is the tourism mecca.
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we have just -- hopefully, people will see the importance of coming back to work. ranking member scott: thank you, ms. dover. ms. barnes, we've seen the cruise industry at a standstill under the current cdc restrictions with no timeline for return. what impact has it had, not only on the cruise industry but throughout the travel and tourism industries? ms. barnes: thank you for the question. you know, we very much are supportive of the legislation that you and senator sullivan introduced today along with senator rubio because we really do think that the entire industry needs to have clear guidelines on how to reopen with the timeline and a date certain to do so. really, we are normally used to welcoming over 13 million travelers via cruise ship annually to the united states, and the impact that that has on ports and destinations throughout the country, restaurants, attractions, folks that are being able to sell gifts for their families at those ports and in those cities.
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so the impact really has been quite significant, and we really believe that every segment of the industry should be able again to reopen and that it isn't fair not to have clear guidelines. so we hope that the cdc will be able to put forward clear guidelines in the immediate term because the economic consequences really are significant, not only to florida but to the other countries like alaska, louisiana, california, washington and other states across the country. ranking member scott: thank you. thank you, chair rosen. chair rosen: thank you, senator scott. i would like to next recognize via webex, senator klobuchar.
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senator klobuchar: thank you very much, chair rosen. thank you as well to senator scott. i am really excited to hear from our witnesses today. i know that this has been such a tough time for tourism, but having this hearing couldn't be more timely. i have long been involved in this issue, from the time that i had the job of chairing the tourism subcommittee and commerce. i am proud of the work that we've done together with some of the witnesses on brand usa and the work that you are doing today. i guess i would start there because i know that senator rosen asked a question and talked about the loss at least of international travel on the mgm resorts and also really everywhere in the country, which is part of the reason we were so proud of the work we've done on brand usa, which finally allowed us to have an even playing field when it came to promoting our own country. this has been a real gut punch for the tourism industry obviously. we had to shutdown the borders for international tourists. but as we see this, as we call it on lake superior, the
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lighthouse on the horizon as opposed to the light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccine and what is happening, ms. barnes, in your testimony you highlight that if international travel is not reopened soon a total of 1.1 million american jobs and $262 billion in spending will be lost by the end of 2021, and that temporary emergency funding for brand usa is needed. can you talk about what resources you think are needed? ms. barnes: sure. thank you, senator, for your question and for your tremendous leadership as the chair of the travel and tourism caucus in the senate. we are very grateful for your leadership, in particular as we sought to reauthorize brand usa back in late 2019, which feels like a dedicate ago -- like a decade ago.
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senator klobuchar: except you must admit we were smart to do it early. we got it done a year early thanks to senator blunt and other things. ms. barnes yes. : thank you. so as i noted, international travel has declined by 76% and right now we are looking at a five-year time horizon for recovery, but we know we can shorten that timeline and just in the losses for 2021 if we are able to reopen international travel by july, that can stymie 40% of the expected losses this year. we really need brand usa that is currently having a funding challenge because of the lack of international travel. usually the esta fee is coming in in a robust fashion and capped at $100 million which goes to brand usa, but because that money isn't coming in, because the international borders are closed, we really need an emergency funding mechanism. what we think is about $250 million in an appropriation, usually the $100 million that comes in on international fees
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is matched by the private sector, but, unfortunately, due to the december magsimation of -- decimation of the private sector those fees are unlikely to be captured. so, again, if the appropriations committee could put forward $250 million, we think they will be able to do their work to bring back international travelers and make sure that 26-to-1 return on investment is provided. i will just note since we were talking about exports that in 2019 the tourism industry provided a $59 billion export for the country. so it really is important beyond just domestic funding. very -- just to mystic funding. -- beyond just domestic funding. senator klobuchar: very good. then another bill that senator blunt and i have introduced, the protecting tourism in the united states act, directs the commerce department in consultation with the u.s. travel and tourism board and key federal agencies to develop a plan to help the tourism industry recover, simply because, you know, i think that as things are getting a little
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better, their ramp up is going to be slower by virtue of the nature of the customers here and where they come from and how they can travel and other industries. i guess i will turn to you with this, mr. perez. by the way, i also want to mention the great leadership of chair rosen as well as senator cortez masto on these issues with nevada. but one report found that in 2020 more than 670,000 hotel industry jobs, and in your testimony you note that mgm resorts had to furlough 60,000 employees as a result of the pandemic. can you speak to how long the hotel industry can sustain itself on the current federal economic relief, particularly regarding your workforce? mr. perez: thank you very much,
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senator, for the question. the employees are coming back, not only in las vegas but also to our regional properties, but they are doing so when the customers have started to come back. what we've seen clearly as vaccinations, shots in arms are becoming more and more pervasive, things have turned around relatively quickly. the question for us is how sustainable is that because it happened as, you know, we were leaving the winter, if you will, entering better weather and along with the stimulus. so there's a little bit of noise, but the way this is -- i apologize. i apologize. can you repeat the question for a second? i'm sorry. senator klobuchar: no, it was
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just -- it is ok because i'm probably out of time and my colleagues are probably glad that you forgot the question. no. it was mostly about how long the hotel industry can sustain itself. mr. perez yes. : what i will say and i will just end it really quickly, right now it is a bit of a challenge, particularly in las vegas and a few of our other regional properties to find labor for the reasons mentioned earlier. you know, as our customers return we feel that with time we can get our employees back and do this in the right form and right fashion, but it is a process. it is a process. senator klobuchar exactly. : very good. we hope you are working as well with carlson companies in minnesota. we have a -- we're proud of the work they're doing. thank you. chair rosen: thank you, senator klobuchar. next i would like to recognize
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in person senator sullivan. thank you, madam chair. -- senator sullivan thank you, : madam chair. i really appreciate this committee. i think it is exciting. i think it is going to be an important committee, very bipartisan, all of these issues. i'm looking forward to your and senator scott's leadership on this. ms. barnes, i wanted to ask you, you mentioned my visit america act, which is very bipartisan with senator schatz and senator king. one thing it would do, it would establish an assistant secretary of commerce for travel and tourism. as you and i have discussed, many countries have cabinet officials in charge of tourism. we don't even have an assistant secretary. now, i'm not a big government guy, but as you know when you are in the debates within the federal agencies, you need someone, senate confirmed, to stand up for this huge part of our economy which goes across so many states. can you share with me a little bit of your perspective of the importance of this act that passed out of this committee very strongly, every senator but one voted for it. we're going to try to move it again quickly this year. yes.
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cash this year. ms. barnes: yes. thank you for your question and for your leadership on this issue. you're right. we're the only one of the top 30 global destinations that doesn't have a cabinet-level person and/or an arm that actually goes out and promotes travel. that's why we have brand usa. so we believe very much that the leadership is needed. we have been very pleased with secretary romando's interest in how important travel and tourism is to the industry, but obviously she has many things to focus on. so we couldn't agree with you more, that we would like to see your bill introduced again quickly and passed, and we've already also raised with the secretary the importance of elevating this position. so, i'm hopeful we would be able to move it forward. it is usa something thatalso -- it is also something we have talked to the national travel advisory board at the national tourism office at the department of commerce about and believe
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with this type of leadership to really be able to draw that inner agency group together, that we can set that national strategy to reopen, not only domestic travel but bring back international travel, bring back meetings and events. we need the whole of the industry focused upon and having a cabinet level position would absolutely help do that. senator sullivan: great. thank you. my next question is for you and ms. dover. i want to talk a little bit about the cruise ship industry. you know, a lot of times the industry gets attacked for certain issues, but what i really want to talk about is how important this industry is to small businesses, whether in florida or in alaska. if you can give us a sense on that, but also, ms. barnes, i saw that the u.s. travel association recently called for the cdc to end its ban on cruise ship travel in america. that's what our bill, senator scott and my bill, the cruise
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act that we introduced today, would do, and they need the guidance. look, the cdc does a good job on the science. they've had a tough year, an important agency. my state has worked hard dealing with the health issues. we've been the number one state in the country throughout the pandemic in terms of testing per capita, in terms of the vaccination rates per capita. we are proud of that in alaska. fortunately, one of the lowest death rates per capita, but my state's economy is getting crushed. oil and gas, no help from the biden administration there, which is anti-oil and gas. commercial fishing, tourism as it has hurt so many industries. senator murkowski and i had a meeting with the cdc director a couple of weeks ago, with all due respect to her she didn't really have a clue on these issues. we had another follow-up meeting with her recently. she gave us a lot of good news, all of the guidance on the cruise ships was going to be coming out at the same time. there was going to be needs for new cdc approvals, cruising in
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america and alaska by mid-july is what she thought we could do. none of that turned out to be true. so that is o for 2 on meetings with u.s. senators. i think somebody on her staff needs to be held accountable. she is obviously getting really, really bad information from people, but it is really disappointing. can you, and, ms. dover, if you have a view on it, give us a sense why you think it is important to get cruising again, particularly when cruise ship industry executives are coming together saying, hey, we will have it, we will put an escrow account in if there's funding issues, we will make sure everybody on the ships are vaccinated. there's a whole host of things that can happen that we can do this safely while still taking into account the economy and the health impacts, let's face it, of americans who are out of work
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because of this ban. sure. -- because of this ban. ms. barnes: sure. thank you for the question. again, we really believe that no sector of the travel industry should be unable to be able to reopen. one u.s. job is created just with 30 cruisers. so 30 people on a ship equals one u.s. job, so that is a significant contribution to the u.s. economy, and and, quite frankly, we think that there needs to be clear guidelines. we can reopen this summer. am i over time? oh, ok. sorry. so, i'm sorry, but to finish we do believe that we need clear guidelines. very much support the legislation you introduced today. we also don't believe that there should be a vaccine requirement to travel, but we do think it is an important layer and we are very much advocating folks get vaccinated. senator sullivan: and ms. dover,
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do you have a view on any of this? sorry, madam chair, to go over, but i know it is important to go over. ms. dover: thank you very much, senator sullivan, to the question. to torey barnes, she answered it very well. to add on to what she said, in florida we have over 115,000 jobs that were relying on the cruise industry. the trickle-down effect of what you have mentioned, hotel rooms, restaurants, retail, gas, it is suffering in those areas of florida that rely so heavily on the cruise industry. so not to mention what an economic engine it is to our state. so i would agree and echo everything that torey barnes said about we don't believe that maybe vaccinations are necessary. we know that the cruise line industry has been meeting around the clock to put in safety standards. there's nothing more important to them than the safety and health and the welfare of the people who want to cruise. so no industry is closed. florida has been open for business for many months, and we
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certainly believe that our cruise line friends should be allowed to open up for business and get out in the waters and start enjoying life again. senator sullivan: thank you, madam chair. chair rosen: thank you. next i would like to recognize our chair, senator cantwell. before i do, i just want to thank her for helping us to
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it is our inaugural hearing, and we look forward to just doing great work here. we appreciate you allowing us to start on this mission. senator cantwell. senator cantwell: thank you, chair rosen. thank you to you and the ranking member, i appreciate both of your's interest in this subject of tourism. you are right, i couldn't be more excited about a committee that's called tourism, trade and export promotion because it is pretty much the state of washington and very much appreciate the two of you bringing an intense focus to the tourism aspect amongst the other responsibilities here. i wanted to ask our witness, i think think, ms. barnes, you. senator scott and i introduced legislation on what i just call another layer of infrastructure. you guys have all articulated in
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your questions, and many of our colleagues, about the important economic consequence of tourism. if it is such an important aspect of the economy, why aren't we doing more to build layers of protection into the system that gives us more data and information. i traveled to china many years ago, and at the airport went through a screening as it related -- i didn't really know i was going through a screening but i was going through a screening on temperature checks. so we see small businesses all over the united states doing this now and doing it successfully. what do you think of getting the infrastructure at airports so that this is something that we can, again, just give more certainty and predictability to the system by just putting this kind of infrastructure in place? >> we think as it relates to technology that there's a lot of good that can be done from biometric touchless solutions that you can opt into to additional layers within the airport. i think that, you know, as we -- the travel industry put forward a guidance early in may of last year and it has had the most, you know, great health and safety standards in hotels and airports, in airplanes and every different mode of transportation as well as in every segment of the travel ecosystem.
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so we very much support anything that can help to continue safety, the health and safety, first and foremost. again, we don't think there should be a vaccine requirement to travel. we do think it is another important layer, but there are things, as you note, temperature checks and other systems that can be piloted perhaps to see how they can help the system move forward. one of the things we want to also be careful though is that we don't put anything in place that we can't ease as things get better with the health crisis because we don't want to be in ten years from now, you know, like we were taking off our shoes still after 9/11. we want to make sure that we have something that is adjustable as we move forward from the pandemic. senator cantwell: i think senator scott and i are talking about something that's basic infrastructure. so the concept is airports, or even just international destinations would have the kind of technology where you would just walk through and detect whether someone had a temperature or not.
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so i think we get a lot of pushback from people saying, how many people have they caught at international airports. well, i'm not sure we've caught anybody lately out at seatac on a national security issue as it relates to the tsa lines, but i'm pretty sure we are keeping the tsa lines. so these things are lines of deterrents, and i think all of you are articulating how important the tourism economy is to us. i think thinking long term about what other challenges we face, i think it is a pretty cost effective technology that's been used around the world. so hopefully we will be able to get our colleagues to do the same here and better protect, you know, the traveling public and focus on what we can do to give confidence. so, thank you, madam chair. i appreciate calling you that. chair rosen: thank you very much, senator cantwell, chair cantwell. next i would like to recognize via webex senator sinema. senator sinema: thank you, madam chair. thank you to all of our witnesses for joining us today. you know, tourism is such an important industry for my state of arizona. in 2019 arizona's tourism
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industry welcomed more than 46 million overnight visitors which generated over $25 billion in direct travel spending and helped support state and local government tax revenue. the covid-19 pandemic has been very difficult 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 35%, hurting many local businesses and putting many arizonans out of work. according to arizona lodging and tourism association, covid-19 has wiped out ten years of job growth for arizona tourism, and unfortunately we are not out of the woods yet. although 2021 has seen a recent uptick relative to 2020, we are still nowhere near the 2019 numbers and that means many arizonans and arizona businesses are still struggling. given the significant challenges for arizonans, i will continue to work with my colleagues on the subcommittee to develop bipartisan solutions to these issues and help get arizona's tourism industry back to work. my first question is for ms. dover. many arizona restaurants are small businesses that rely on travelers to support their operations, as you know, i worked with my friend senator
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roger wicker to offer the restaurants act which is bipartisan legislation to provide structural relief to local and independent restaurants, and our effort became law as part of the american rescue plan. soon restaurants will be able to apply for $26 billion of relief. many restaurants received assistance from the paycheck protection pramt protection program. can you explain how it is different from ppp and how this is different from those funds? >> thank you for the question. i want to thank you all of you for support you have given the industry in passing the ppp, because all of those were critical in getting the industry propped up. but one of the things about your new restaurant revitalization act is that they're going to look at minorities and small businesses and some who may have not been able to apply in the first go-round. i can tell you that we're already hearing great concerns that that money may be gone in a
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very short order, so we are quite concerned about that. but we -- you know, we represent just as many small, independent or more operators as we do large, and so many of our small businesses are struggling. so but for the first ppp round and now the restaurant revitalization act, they would not be able to keep their doors open for hire back their employees. so i want to thank you for that. the employee retention tax credit is critical also to our industry. we want to thank you for all of the efforts that you put forth, especially in extending that because it was crucial to our employers in our industry. >> thank you. my next question is for ms. barnes. according to a recent report by the american hotel and lodging
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association, half of u.s. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021 and hotel employment is not expected to rebound until 2023. as you know, arizona is a prime destination for large business and group travel, and according to the arizona lodging and tourism association business and group travel accounts for more than half of annual hotel revenue and estimates show these travelers may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. can you describe how business and group travel is so important to the tourism industry and how the decline in this type of travel has hurt arizona's small businesses? ms. barnes: thank you, senator, for the question. i would echo carol dover's comments about gratitude for the hard work that you have done on the restaurant act and many other issues on behalf of the industry. as you note, 60% of business travel has declined in arizona, and we think that it is really
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important that we have clear guidelines for reopening business meetings and events and that we really differentiate them from mass gatherings. we think this is absolutely critical, that at other parts of the industry are able to open and other parts of the economy are able to open, the majority of revenue that comes into the industry really is from that business travel. so 40% to 60% of revenues come from a hotel perspective and business travel, and when you think about it right now, while we're seeing that leisure market really pick up and that will help for certain weeks of the year and the weekends, that monday through thursday travel really isn't happening right now. until we open business travel up, it is not going to. so the thing that we need to do is beyond just opening up business meetings and events. we need to increase those gathering limitations for structured meetings. they can be held in a safe way. there are layers of protection, and as we have more and more folks vaccinated that should be even more possible. so we hope that the cdc can put
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forth the clear guidelines to increase those gathering limitations and to open up business meetings and events. again, 70% decline year over year is just not acceptable or sustainable into the future. senator >> next i would like to recognize senator hickenlooper. >> i think this is a remarkably enlightening and informative session. first i want to ask mr. hill, we see the importance to cities and regions and states of
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conventions and how in many places vizio first base a business executive will come to a different city in maybe five years airfare office -- five years later their office there. you are just as much captive to the loss of commerce and the restaurants, music venues. i thought you might have the best perspective on how you are thinking of trying to rebuild that commerce. you're certainly subject to the same fears and cautions as the rest of the american public. >> thank you for your questions under indoor support of our industry.
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the confidence of businesspeople is critical to the return. we are seeing that as people get vaccinated, their confidence returns because the process -- of that process. those that have chosen not to be vaccinated, they have some of that confidence as well. the vaccination process, we encourage that you move forward as quickly as it has. that is critical. getting past the health crisis is what will really boost our confidence. consistency with unelected officials with carl --
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consistency with officials, it is important to have communicated the need to be careful, the need to be responsible and safe and healthy, but as that takes hold, messaging around it is time to go back in trap -- and travel needs to be heard by all constituents. a lot of people think of marketing as not necessarily generating information and providing a potential customer with that information, but in this environment having the ability to provide that information is important. this is designed to help with that.
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>> great answer. i appreciate that. having come from colorado and spent almost 20 years in hospitality and tourism, we have a big state and al gore were creation in many cases were not as negatively impacted as some of the other parts of hospitality and tourism, just because it is easier to social distance when you're hiking. i do think where we see disruption and -- in the trend, and i'm wondering if you got a sense of what changes we have seen, which of the changes and stroking -- and disruptions are more likely to become permanent, and which are likely to bounce back?
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>> we have seen a significant interest in visiting national parks and enjoying beaches, and being in the outdoor environment. it started last summer and certain destinations definitely fare better than others because not everyone has the same to offer. i think that will be a trend for some period of time and we will continue to see folks want to be in outdoor environment. however, it is important that we bring back the whole economy and diversify that by more will -- a more holistic opening of the country and all of the six periods is that all states and destinations have to offer without the -- offer throughout the country. in terms of recreation, a -- it is important we have our
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national parks sustainable for the future, that we are cognizant of over visitation trends, i think there will be a return to making sure we are cognizant and careful with the public moving forward, but overall i expect the outdoor environment will be geared to stay for some period of time and folks will welcome those opportunities to get out and explore. >> great. madam chair, i will give the floor back to you. >> thank you, senator. next via webex is senator blackburn. >> thank you, i appreciate this so much. i appreciate the time and attention is on this.
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mr. barnes, let me come to you first. international travel -- and your testimony you talked about the cdc, dhs to come together and create a risk base roadmap by may, and risk base travel instructions by july 2021. what are you hearing about this now? is there a consensus on the timeline? inbound and outbound czar restrictions per opening our borders. i'm asking because in nashville, memphis, tennessee, the great
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smoky mountains, you were talking about getting people to come back -- getting people coming back to our national parks. so let's talk about them opening. >> i think right now there is a hesitancy to create a roadmap toward outdoor travel. that is something we are pushing dean barden administration to get to us. throughout the pandemic we heard the data & lead the way. we agree home only think that there could be a data and science driven approach to national travel.
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we have seen timelines for out by the united kingdom and others. i think that with a clear roadmap that, -- vaccination rates, that there can be area pain. first and foremost, we can make a timeline. his story with the u.k. in a travel core door, so we need to have clear guidelines, lunch -- benchmarks, and clarity. we want to be able to welcome international travelers back to the u.s. >> the schedule mr. hill.
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>> you talked about the workforce, and as a lot of this industry wants to recover. 30% of the restaurants want to add them to the industry, but -- what do you see is the way back in the concert industry for areas like las vegas and nashville? >> i was part of the -- when
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they there is -- it's when you -- the ability to get the facts are difficult. we experienced later shortages here though we are quite different, with the ability to track people back, to the feelings -- suing shuai in june the industry is that i have to deal with -- the -- the industry
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that it is going to have two deal with. >> machine june and -- in her learning dollars through doing in ccing william dollars. with self you clearly defined timelines: these two engines are threatening to cancel. >> we are seeing the same thing, sadly.
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it takes three to five month. . seeing events cancel 4-6 months out on a weekly basis. we think it will be a gateway event in the industry. the entire insured is walking. decision can provide that certainty moving forward. >> thanks greg. >> going to go to a second round of questions.
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as i've been hearing all of the testimony and questions from my calling, what i'm struck by, tourism and pressure cooker. we have an changes you make in this. in nevada, our airports are gay ways to everything we have to offer. those who don't lodge roast toilet cone to us at spots that do not need a car. in the northern states, and rao offers name greenough virginia
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beach. so i asked, how she is an answer to passing an answer sure sure will in order to get tourism economy revitalized? >> thank you really question. -- the really great question -- thank you for that really great question. the national travel
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infrastructure strategy that i mentioned earlier is important. this is equally important. i appreciate the support that congress is given. that surely is the rational having the ability to have set industries start immediately back of middle to is there would have engines staying. that is how this was appreciating.
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>> missed barnes? if we have the system to move freight, existing in a highest screen will, or her verbally invest usual slick goals between enjoying france we should think about the green american road trip where if you're going to drive to california, new york, washington, how can you doing them in a sustainable way schumer the urgency for funding
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these projects now. >> the great american road trip is wonderful. we have an amazingly country. each and every state and some winning to meaningful -- something beautiful to offer. >> colleges start by thinking chair rosen for this committee today. also mccauley. ms. barnes? how is sir -- how is puerto rico doing
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? >> that -- travel is down for you. it creates a significant challenge for them. i know you have been a tremendous fearful puerto rico and the issues that this nation is facing, but i think there is still a lot of work to do, and by more worldly reopening, we will be able to wring those meetings and events back, obviously mankind year-over-year challenges. i thank you for your leadership, but there is a lot more -- more work than needs to be done. >> thank you. i would again like to think my forwardness is for being here today. mr. hill, mr. jorge gritz,
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tillie, we appreciate your work. i would like to slow it for the record, three ledgers. one from the alliance, one from the hotel association, and a third from the american budget association. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks. annie signatures of light she suddenly question your will do so. for those of meaning that justified snakes, we asked that your responses return to -- ascutney as possible. -- as soon as possible.
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