Participants of the USTA/ U.S. Department of Commerce roundtable discussion. (photo via U.S. Travel Association)
On March 8, the U.S. Travel Association led a discussion with eleven leaders in the travel industry and the U.S. Department of Commerce, along with its Deputy Secretary, Don Graves, on what the travel industry needs going forward as we begin entering out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the discussion, topics ranged from the hopeful return of business travel as workers slowly begin reentering offices again as well as opportunities to welcome global events and exhibitions to the United States. Business travel, as many know, comprises about half of all hotel stays each year in the U.S.; last year, it had reached only 36 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Attendees at the roundtable discussion included Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line and National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association; Susan Fox, Senior Vice President, Government Relations for The Walt Disney Company; Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants; Julie Coker, President & CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority and other notables.
“We appreciate the focus of our federal partners on rebuilding business and professional travel and their commitment to restoring this sector of the U.S. economy and workforce. The travel industry is seizing every opportunity extended to quickly recover—particularly as business travel, conferences and conventions, and trade events nationwide continue to lag,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
“Special thanks go to Deputy Secretary Graves for meeting with our industry today and offering the agency’s support, as well as to Secretary Gina Raimondo for her leadership on rebuilding America’s travel economy.”
The U.S. Travel Association recommended temporary tax incentives to encourage business travel and entertainment services spending, a partnership with U.S. destinations and venues to secure high-value international MICE events, a repeal of the pre-departure testing requirement for all inbound and fully vaccinated international arrivals, and restoring visa services and issuing additional temporary work visas for high travel seasons.