A group of U.S. Senators led by Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) has introduced bipartisan legislation to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel and other special events to ensure a safe recovery.
The Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act would authorize $10 billion in funding through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to provide grants for tourism and event entities impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
The grants would be made available to entities such as states, regional groups and private businesses that perform tourism promotion operations; host, organize, own, operate, or staff event venues, conventions, or trade shows; or provide services as a concessionaire to events and tourism locations. Meanwhile, the funding would support tourism marketing and promotion activities needed to propel economic recovery and cleaning and sanitary costs as well as salary costs and other operation-associated expenses.
“When hotels, restaurants and event venues across the state welcome visitors, the public and employees alike need reassurance that travel and events are safe. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to fund grants for sanitation, staff, and marketing that will allow Nevadans and visitors alike to safely connect as the state continues to reopen,” Senator Cortez Masto said in a statement accompanying Tuesday’s announcement.
The U.S. Travel Association was quick to laud the bill and urge lawmakers to approve it sooner rather than later as the travel and tourism sector has been among the hardest-hit industries amid the pandemic.
“Protection, relief and stimulus for travel-related businesses need to be a significant priority in order for the broader economy to recover, and the bipartisan STEP Act introduced in the Senate includes a number of crucial measures for employers to hold on until they can rehire and help fuel an economic turnaround,” U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement released Tuesday.
“The grants the bill would provide through the Economic Development Administration, which would be put toward tourism promotion as well as enhanced sanitation and encouraging the wearing of masks, will be invaluable for moving the country toward a safe reopening of travel,” she added. “The bill also wisely makes aid available to the economically vital meetings, conventions and trade shows sector, which has a uniquely challenging path to recovery.”
The newly-introduced STEP Act would establish a new grant program to support recovery in tourism, meetings, events and trade show sectors.
Learn more about the bill championed by @SenCortezMasto, @RoyBlunt, @SenKevinCramer & @SenAmyKlobuchar https://t.co/TlpPUeeznQ
Barnes points out that eight million travel and tourism jobs have already been lost due to the pandemic, accounting for more than one-third of the total jobs lost in the U.S.
“The only way travel jobs will be restored in a timely fashion is if businesses are able to survive until the point when travel is able to fully and safely resume and consumer demand picks up, and the STEP Act would be a major boon to those efforts,” said Barnes. “Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) deserve tremendous credit for crafting and introducing this important piece of jobs legislation, and we urge leaders to allow its timely consideration or include its policy measures in a broader legislative package.”
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