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tv   Senate Hearing on Travel Tourism During Coronavirus Pandemic  CSPAN  April 19, 2021 8:32am-10:08am EDT

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>> the house meets today at noon eastern for morning our peer at 2 p.m. for legislative business. lawmakers plan to consider a bill starting the process for the district of columbia to become the state. another bill bars discrimination of foreign visitors to the u.s. based on country of origin. the senate is back today at 3 p.m. eastern. they continue work on anti-asian hate crimes legislation and also work on the nomination of lisa monaco to be the deputy attorney general. later senators begin work on the second nomination for gary gensler to serve on the securities and exchange commission. and they are expected to work on water infrastructure legislation. watch live coverage of the house on c-span, the senate on c-span2 and follow our congressional coverage in time at or listen on the free c-span radio app.
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>> the senate commerce subcommittee on tourism, trade and export holds a a hearing n 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. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> welcome to the naga hearing of the newly formed subcommittee on tourism, trade and export promotion. i would like to thank senator rick scott, the ranking of the subcommittee for agreeing to work with me in a bipartisan way on this critical issues that are so important to workers, businesses and families in both of ourue states and across the country. i look forward to a productive solution. i would also like to thank chair cantonal and ranking member wicker for the tremendous leadership and for agreeing to establish this crucial subcommittee at a a time when travel, tourism,th hospitality needs more support than ever
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before. travel and tourism related industries try job creation and economic growth from states across america especially in nevada with industry and workers the employer e actually essentil for estates prosperity. for excitement and energy of the las vegas strip, exquisite outdoor recreation opportunities at lake tahoe to the magnificent engineering feat that is thedo hoover dam, and the vast and pristine public lands throughout our state, people love to visit nevada. prior to the pandemic, in 2019 about 85 million people visited the silver superstate wha record-setting figure. state, wh record-setting figure. in the las vegas area alone, direct visitor spending reached almost $37 billion, directly supported more than 242,000 workers in a tourism, leisure and hospitality industries.
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jobs in those sectors account for about 9% of all u.s. jobs. a major slice of the nation's economy. in nevada, they employ about a quarter of our workforce. with tourism as our life blood, this pandemic has hit nevada particularly hard. it brought our travel and tourism having economies screeching to a halt and decimated the jobs that these industries support. in april 2020, the unemployment rate in nevada was the highest in our state's history, and the worst in the nation, skyrocketed to almost 30%. i want to repeat that, 30% unemployment. they were unemployed through no fault of their own. it was all because of the covid-19 pandemic, and that contributed to the worst economic downturn in the tourism industry we have ever experienced in my state of nevada.
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through ppp loas congress has worked to support tourism businesses and workers during this difficult period. far more needs to be done. now it is time to bring this critical industry back to its thriving prepandemic economic status. i intend to use this subcommittee to find bipartisan pathways and solutions to do just that. we're going to get americans and the world traveling again. today's inaugural hearing titled the state of travel and tourism during covid will examine the economic impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry. with a particular focus on hotels, conventions, and the broader hospitality industry. we'll discuss regional impacts of the pandemic on tourism heavy economies like nevada's and florida's and those communities
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disproportionately affected by covid-19's economic downturn. here today both virtually and in person we have a panel of wonderful witnesses to share their expertise, provide insight, and recommendations and take questions for members of the subcommittee. we will hear from witnesses representing the las vegas convention and visitors authority, and mgm resorts international, u.s. travel association, florida restaurant and lodging association. from this hearing i hope the subcommittee will gain a robust understanding of the current needs of our nation's travel and tourism industry so that we can craft the most efebtive and targeted solutions to revive our economy and support the travel and tourism workforce. while the focus of today is primarily hotels, conventions the broader hospitality industry, restaurants and
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casinos, ranking member scott and i will ensure this subcommittee hears from key stake holders across the board. over next few months, you'll hear from the airports about the pandemic impact on international travel, we'll explore eco tourism, we'll raise the voices of small businesses, hospitality workers and the live entertainment workforce. and we'll chart a path forward for the future. thank you all again for being here today. i look forward to hearing each of you share your experiences and expertise with us. now i'll turn it over to ranking member scott for his opening statement and introduce our witnesses so they can provide testimony to the panel. senator scott. >> first, thank you. we both come from tourism states and we know the importance of making sure that we have robust tourism. i remember being at i think supposed to be the largest
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tourism convention or event supposedly in the world down in rio de janeiro, brazil, and las vegas had an unbelievably beautiful space there and they presented nevada really well. so it is -- it is a great state and it is a great place to take a vacation. i want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today and sharing their opinions. i finished as governor of florida, i worked in hand with carol, tourism is a big deal in our state. and she is truly a champion for our tourism industry if our state. i want to thank chair cantwell and ranking member wicker for giving us the opportunity to do this. it is an honor to lead this subcommittee. as you heard from chair rosen,
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some of our states have gotten hurt because of what has happened with the pandemic. during my time as governor we put -- we invested as actually quite a bit of state money and worked on growing tourism. we went from 80 million tourists ayer to my last year, 126 million tourists. last year the state of florida tourism like all other states was down significantly. and we shattered records and creates a lot of jobs. and these visitors, they support our small businesses, they fuel our job growth, increase our state and local investments in the environment and transportation and public safety and education. what happens in florida is people come to visit and i'm sure the same thing happens in nevada, people come to visit, they say this is a nice place, i'll build my business here, it drives development in both of our states. our state has 15 seaports, the gateway to latin america. florida is a hub for businesses
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across the nation for import and export. we try to move all the business we can out of california over to florida. so goods that flow through florida airports have grown to $154 billion a year. do our focus on building international trade relationships. we -- in 2016 exports from florida support an estimated 232,000 american jobs. these are the tourism is big jobs, the trade jobs are big jobs with the ports, we invested in my eight years $1.4 billion just in our ports. i know that this pandemic impacted every one of us, our families, and all of us have tried to figure out how to deal with this, keep everybody safe, our family safe, our businesses safe, our employees safe. i heard from a lot of small businesses around the -- my state that rely on the tourism industry, had been devastated by the pandemic. while i'm glad florida is open for business, our businesses are open, our schools are open, the uncertainty of when the industry -- tourism industry will reopen in other states and
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communities across the country is clearly impacted. i know everybody is working hard to keep their businesses going and get back in business and be able to employ everybody again and i hope that happens quickly. as our nation works to recover from the coronavirus, and get our economy back on track, i'm going to be doing everything i can with senator rosen to support the tourism industry in florida and across the country. i'm also very focused on what happens in puerto rico. the puerto rico is devastated by hurricane maria and had the earthquake and now covid-19. we 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 covid detection act with senator cinema, this directs the tsa to conduct a feasibility study on canine units effective in detecting covid and hopefully will provide an opportunity to
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make people feel safer flying. we got to get people back in the air for all of our states. we have a bipartisan bill with chair cantwell to enable a temperature check pilot program at airports. and today i introduced the careful resumption under improved safety enhancement act or cruise act with senator sullivan and rubio to help our cruise industry restart and support the many businesses in our communities that rely on the success of the cruise industry. i guess you don't have a lot of cruises, but -- >> they cruise up and down the las vegas strip. >> that's right. and you got a lot of walking. it has been frustrating. the cruise industry has been waiting for months for updated guidance from the cdc and i think it is wrong what happened. they got to -- we got to get the cruise industry the terms, the rules and they'll reopen safely. i know that industry wants to do it safely. it is an important job created for us. i want to make sure that happens. we'll do everything we can.
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i look forward to working with all my colleagues to grow tourism not just in nevada, not just in florida, but even in states beautiful states like mississippi. >> thank you, senator scott. i would like to now introduce here in person our ranking member. >> thank you, senator rosen, senator scott, senator scott, i share that sentiment with you because we have a number of tourism opportunities, not the least of which is the national civil rights trail and the national blues trail, which more and more people are coming to visit as well as our other more traditional tourism sites. thank you, both, for holding this hearing today to hear industry perspectives on the state of the travel and tourism industry. this is a great topic for the new tourism, trade and export promotion subcommittee. i expect this committee will be
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very busy and i look forward to participating. the travel and tourism industry is a key pillar of the american economy. before the covid 19 pandemic, this industry support roughly 16 million jobs and generated $1.1 trillion in consumer spending, accounting for over 2.5 trillion in total economic output. covid-19 deaf straited the industry more than any other economic sector in the united states. nearly 40% of the total u.s. jobs lost during the pandemic have been in leisure and hospitality employment. during the worst point of this crisis, the employment in the travel and tourism industry reached over 50%. more than double the national employment rate at the height of the great depression. congress has sought to provide much needed support to help the industry recover. the c.a.r.e.s. act provided urgently needed relief to travel and tourism businesses in the
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form of grants, emergency loans and lines of credit. the fifth covid relief bill, which passed in december, as part of the fy '21 appropriations act expanded the industry's access to many of these c.a.r.e.s. act relief programs. more recently the american rescue plan act provided $750 million for the economic development administration to help communities impacted by the loss of travel and tourism. additionally the bill included a $28.6 billion restaurant revitalization fund or restaurants modeled after the bipartisan restaurants act which i drafted with my friend senator cinema, a member of the subcommittee. the small business administration has been tasked with standing up the restaurant fund and the sba may start allocating grants very, very soon. federal resources should help shore up the tourism sector, i recognize the impacts of the
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pandemic will be long lasting. i hope our witnesses today 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 in ways the public and private sectors can partner to help restore demand for travel as the public health situation improves. continues to improve. it may take years to restore travel and tourism to its prepandemic levels, but i hope not. i'm hopeful this subcommittee can identify bipartisan opportunities to help the sector heal and prosper much sooner than that. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you. thank you, senator wicker. and appreciate you being, both chairman and ranking member. right now i would like to welcome via webex senator cortez
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masto, my partner in representing nevada in the senate. she's a tireless advocate for travel and tourism industry, and i would like to welcome her to introduce to the subcommittee our witness from las vegas, senator cortez masto, i turn it to you to introduce mr. hill. >> chair rosen, 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 that i enjoyed serving on when i first came to the senate. the committee does great work promoting on tourism. as you know and as you stated tourism is vital to the economic health of our country. i so appreciate you bringing these experts to talk about the importance of the travel industry to nevada and to the nation as a whole. all of these participants are great partners and leaders in the travel industry, which has been so hard hit by the covid-19
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pandemic and our tourism economy will need our full support as the nation recovers. that's why i have been working in a bipartisan way on the hospitality commerce job recovery act with senator cramer along with the bipartisan step act with senators 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 convention and visitors authority in 2018, steve has been a great job of creating more opportunities for southern nevada to be even more inviting to our visitors every year from completion of the convention expansion to the innovative people mover system and now weathering this health and economic crisis, steve has been a solid and steady hand and in
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working to bring us out of this critical challenge to our state and local economy. i appreciate his partnership on many of the legislative efforts we have worked on. i appreciate the committee bringing his expertise in for this hearing today. thank you. >> thank you, senator, that was a very kind introduction. and thank you chair rosen, 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 subcommittee, but it seems like the right thing to do, so i would like to congratulate you and also add the appreciation of our industry for doing so. we have great supporters in
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senator cortez masto, and senator rosen, i know they represent nevada well. and our tourism industry well. in the senate we have really appreciated being able to work with them on much of the legislation that they sponsored on behalf of the travel industry. so thank you very much. i'm going to emphasize really some of the things that you have already said. our industry is central to the u.s. economy, there is a big part of the u.s. economy, and it is critical to the recovery of the u.s. economy. as you mentioned, full strength our industry supports 16 million jobs in the united states, one in every nine jobs, it is one of the seventh largest industries in the country. and it was certainly the industry most affected by the pandemic. when our industry is suffering,
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it is large enough and has a big enough impact that it is felt throughout all of our communities, it affects all of our suppliers and service providers, and, you know, that's from the -- those that you think of initially from restaurants and local attractions, also the cab drivers and laundry and the construction workers who set up trade shows, the list goes on. tourism is a significant driver in every state. but this is particularly true in nevada where senator rosen mentioned hospitality supports one in four nevada jobs. two and a half times the national average. the las vegas convention of visitors authority is unique organization and we are the only entity in a major city in the united states to serve as both the destination marketing organization as well as the convention and visitors bureau.
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as with many convention centers throughout the country, our mission certainly expanded over the last year and that includes doing what we could to help the community respond to the pandemic. we're the state's largest covid test center, we're currently the largest vaccine site. we are the fema distribution center, we provided space for courtrooms, for eviction assistance, we have space in the community, needed space, and we were happy and proud to be a part of all of those efforts. we recently purchased the las vegas monorail system after it was forced to close due to the pandemic. we needed to preserve this important transportation system. through the last year we finished the construction of 1.4 million square foot expansion, and you may have seen last week showcased the first commercial application of elon musk, innovative transportation system, which now runs
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underneath the campus of our convention center. we are looking forward to both recovery and return to prosperity and we do hope to be able to speed that up. people in this industry need that. we they need their jobs back. our customers need to travel, frankly. they need to see their family and friends, they haven't seen in the last year. and they need to meet a potential new customer, to experience a new culture or frankly just to set aside what has happened over the last year and get away for a few days. first step, part of the recovery, as you all mentioned, will be moving beyond the health crisis and continuing the vaccination process is the key to making that happen. we need to get to the point now where socially distancing is no
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longer necessary. like many destinations, las vegas doesn't work well without a crowd. and we are optimistic that we are on the cusp of that. we think that as the ability to happen soon. once beyond the health crisis, our industry will be faced with a situation that is roughly equivalent to the depths of the great recession. that will be where we are once we get past the health crisis and are just simply dealing with the economic fallout as a result. domestic and leisure travel will recover first. and it is already doing so. we're seeing strength there. but business travel and international travel was -- will certainly take longe -- receives a good portion of our funding through a fixed percentage of room tax and it is a good indicator of the health of our tourism and hospitality
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industry. typically we would receive $300 million a year. and our current fiscal year, which ends in june, we will receive about 100. about a third of our normal revenue. we're projecting next year that we will receive about 70% of our normal room tax revenue. so we will show improvement, but it is only about halfway to where we need to be over the next 12 months. i'll mention the transportation and transportation infrastructure in all forms will be a key to recovering fully and having real growth from there. i was honored to serve on the national advisory committee on travel and tourism infrastructure two years ago, the report we issued then was relatively brief, and contained a focused set of recommendations, key recommendation was to create a national travel infrastructure strategy, we have a national freight plan, we don't have a
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full national travel plan. corridors of regional significance need to be a focus of that strategy. in our state, i-15, one such corridor, reflects states that runs directly through from california to montana. as well as neighboring states such as wyoming and colorado. and the importance of that corridor can be seen in the makeup of this committee, where half of this committee represents states affected by i-15. so we look forward to working with you, chair rosen, on the formation of the i-15 caucus in congress and we thank you for your help. with that, and again i would like to thank you, ranking member scott, all the members of the committee, for the opportunity to be before you here today, thank you for all you have done and all you will do for the travel industry.
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>> -- regional portfolio president and mgm resorts international. mr. perez oversees the strategic direction for eight of mgm's resorts 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. >> good afternoon. thank you chairwoman rosen, chairwoman cantwell, ranking member scott and ranking member wicker and members of the subcommittee. my name is jorge perez, i oversee the eight regional domestic properties for mgm resorts outside of las vegas. i appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony on behalf of our organization and to share some of our experiences during this incredibly challenging year. mgm resorts international is a global company with 29 unique
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hotels and gaming destinations across eight states. last year was one of the most difficult years ever faced by our industry, by our company, by our employees. mgm first felt the impacts of the pandemic at our properties in -- which closed in february 2020. and shortly there after in march 2020 our regional properties were closed, and eventually las vegas properties, leaving the strip closed for the very first time in its history. like many we face a number of difficult decisions including having to furlough a significant portion of our workforce, but during this time of great hardship, our company and team members sought ways to demonstrate care and compassion for one another and for the most impacted in our communities. we provided extended health benefits for employee and families.
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we dispersed over $15.5 million to help employees during the pandemic via our employee emergency grant fund. and within days of shutting down, we donated hundreds of thousands of meals to people in need. and mgm >> we continue to focus on our commitment to the communities that have welcomed us, to give generously to our neighbors and embrace humanity every day. and it's also been a year of innovation and change and properties we drastically overhauled our operations, implemented comprehensive protocol seven hadden point health and safety plan which included installation of plexi, plexiglas, menus in restaurants and bars, ability for our guests to check in utilizing mobile phone enhanced hvac
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protocol. team members and guest and rapid for our events. as the world starts to return to normal we appreciate the leadership and support of the federal government. the bills passed by congress helped so many around the country. our employees had extended unemployment benefits and paycheck protection program and provides health extended health benefits for our employees and families. expanding these efforts, the country's tourism and travel industries have been hit hard and mentioned earlier travel spending was down 500 billion costing the u.s. economy about 1.1 trillion dollars. at the current pace the travel industry is not expected to recover until 2025, but we're hoping that recovery will
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arrive that much sooner. there are key political initiatives to help for a speedy recovery and nearly 16 million american workers employed before the pandemic. the tourism industries and these by senator cortez masto and cramer. and coming 2021, various tax credits for our industry. additionally would assist the convention and trade show sector which was disproportionately impacted for recovery. we also welcome a safe and science-based easing of the restrictions which will permit us to bring back more of our world renowned amenities, allowing us to bring back more. and mgm we understand the need to remain vigilant for our
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employees and guests and vaccination is important to accelerate our community's economic recovery. we're committed to doing anything we can to help get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible by removing barriers to access and bringing vaccination clinics directly to our mro i -- employees. it's been a difficult year, but there's great reason for cautious optimism and we're starting to see signs of recovery. we at mgm await the ability without restriction and to help our guests celebrate life to its fullest and the opportunity to present testimony today. >> thank you, mr. perez. testifying next is tory emmerson barnes, public affairs and policy at u.s. travel association. ms. barnes leads the associate's government relations policy development
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communications marketing as research teams. miss barnes is here with us today in person and i recognize you for your opening remarks. >> chairman rosen, ranking member scott good afternoon, i'm for the public affairs of the u.s. travel association shall the only association that represents all sectors of the travel industry and i am very happy to be here in person and grateful for the leadership that you're putting forward here today. before the pandemic, 1.1 trillion dollars in travel spending generated 2.6 trillion dollar impact and supported 16 million american jobs, this came to a halt at the onset of the pandemic. last year, travel spending fell 42% costing the economy 500 billion in lost travel spent. international communication declined 76% and business
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travelling fell 70%. 5.6 million travel supported jobs were lost accounting for 65% of all job lost to the pandemic. at the state level, nevada, florida and washington state suffered travel spending and fell 26 in mississippi. currently the travel industry is expect today take five years to recover from this crisis. that's far too long to wait. we expect domestic leisure travel to recover more quickly, a full rebound won't be certain and won't make up for losses in other sectors. the largest generator of spending revenue are still restricted in many states. this sector is projected to take four years to recover and with our borders still closed to 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
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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 directions in place to safely reopen, but we don't have clear public health benchmarks or a definitive timeline to return to open our borders. u.s. travel has urged the biden administration to develop by this may a road map and a timeline for entry restrictions with the goal of reopening international travel by july. we can start by establishing public health corridors between the u.s. and other low risk countries such as united kingdom. second c.d.c. should have guidance to left restrictions and safely restart professional meetings and events. nearly all sectors of the economy have clear guidelines to allow them to reopen during the pandemic.
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business meetings are distinct due to the level of control implemented and should not remain closed while the rest of the economy has the green light to reopen. there should spur demand and accelerate rehiring. this bill would increase travel demand among low to middle income families provided targeting and refundable tax credits for travel and 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 nearly 600 billion in spending. fourth, congress should provide temporary emergency funding for brand usa, america's destination marketing organization. over the last several years,
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brand usa's generated 26-1 return on investment for the u.s. economy. however, the drastic decline due to international travel restrictions, combined with scarce contributions during the economic crisis have decimated the program's funding. if it's unable to continue, it's important work, international 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 he will evaluate travel leadership in the federal government. this would strengthen the commerce's role in travel policies and set consistent national goals and strategies to boost travel exports. finally, investing in our country's infrastructure will
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help facilitate travel and better prepare us to welcome back visitors from around the world. by prioritizing infrastructure, investments now, they'll 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 for inviting the travel industry to testify today on a devastating impact of the pandemic and i welcome your questions. thank you. >> thank you, miss barnes. our final witness is carol dover, president and ceo of the florida restaurant and lodging association. miss dover has serves as a member of several boards, including the board of directors for the national restaurant association, council of state restaurant associations and international society of hotel association
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executives. ms. dover, i recognize you via web exfor your opening remarks. >> thank you, chair cantwell, the ranking member wicker and chairman rosen and ranking member scott and the others for the opportunity to represent florida's hospitality industry. for more than 26 years i've led the flra, florida restaurant association, to represents 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. in 2019, a record-setting 131 million visitors added nearly 97 billion dollars to florida's economy. tourism was florida's largest employer with over 1.5 million
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employees. before covid our nearly 112 billion dollar hospitality industry was booming, with hundreds of new hotels, thousands of new restaurants, and even 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 canceled. went into overdrive to help our members survive, interpreting executive orders and serving as an information clearinghouse. we helped our workers get ppe and other covid supplies. we were heavily engaged with state and federal leaders and grateful for the support of senators scott and rubio. we were blessed to work with governor desantis for creating
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guidelines and safety protocols to get our industries reopened. there were many creative solutions that our industry embarked upon from opening restaurants and dining tables in parking lots, alcohol-to-go became critical for restaurant and we're working to try to make that permanent. we've worked with our national association partners on federal relief packages, critical to our survival. our industry is facing horrific work force challenges. although we were allowed to operate at 100% capacity, and can't find staff. 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,
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but we're desperate for workers, covid has decimated the u.s. tourism industry and 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. this is travel, the single largest source of hotel revenue will remain down 85%, and it's going to take years to recover. thousands of hotels have closed and have been foreclosed. florida had the second highest hotel job loss in the nation behind california. restaurants will -- have also been shattered, from the misleading claims about restaurants, and 2020 ended with total sales $240 billion less than projected. and nationally more than eight million restaurant employees
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were laid off or furloughed and 600,000 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're hopeful that ppp, tax credits, and the recently passed restaurant revitalization funds have been huge victories. 28.6 billion in grants for restaurants who desperately need it. thank you, ranking member, and sinema for creating the restaurant act to keep us over. travel, tourism and hospitality agencies have faced the worst years in history. in florida we understand emergencies, but there was no playbook for covid-19 and nothing has tested us like this. we move creating memorable
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experiences for guests that keep coming back, but we need for them to come back. and international visitors, business travel, we're 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'll be happy to take any questions that you may have. >> thank you so much for your opening remarks and i really appreciate everyone's thoughtful opening remarks because senator scott and i believe we must get americans travelling again. travel is the life blood of nevada's economy. cain has you've said has taken a toll on our workers across this nation, on our businesses and on our communities, but with more americans vaccinated and c.d.c. giving the green
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light for 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 for pre-pandemic levels. we need to get americans and the world travelling again. and that means making sure that people from across the country and across the globe know that our tourism destinations, well, they're 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 the hotels in the success of its workforce? >> thank you, let me start off with the regional properties and you know, we're in seven different states, some in the northeast, mid atlantic and senator wicker, mississippi. for nos properties, most of us
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business comes from an hour's drive and we were a bit more insulated by, obviously, but more insulated than vegas because the barriers to travel. you can jump in your car and not have to deal with air fare and that sort of thing. las vegas, and i'll parallel that, we do have two destination resorts, one is in biloxi, mississippi. and that property also has hampered more compared to the other seven and more like las vegas and the borgati in atlantic city. and you've heard the testimony. getting customers comfortable with air travel, primarily, is
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paramount and it's going to take time for the international travel to come back, and particularly in las vegas. the customers stay longer, enjoy our restaurant and casinos and shows, spend quite a bit on retail and it's important, the las vegas economy. so certainly to reduce those barriers, would be incredibly helpful, especially toward las vegas. >> thank you. mr. hill, i'd like to ask you a similar question, but really about our conventions, we know that conventions, business travel is the life blood of not just las vegas, but so many other cities across the country. how do you feel about what can we do to bring that tourism back and what do we need? and its importance to our communities? >> thank you, chairman. ranking member scott mentioned
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the connection between tourism and economic development and i would just react that really, tourism is economic development, too, and bring this money in from outside of our state, into our state, it creates those, you know, 26% of the jobs in nevada, it's an economic engine for our state and domestic and international tourists are what make that possible. that, you know, a year ago or a little longer ago, when we were trying to get from 87%, 90%. that that concept seems maybe not as important as what we went through when we shut down for 10 weeks and didn't have any visitors in nevada. as you pointed out, suffered the worst unemployment rate of
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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 and i know everyone is. from a convention, perspective, we're excited to have, i think the first large trade show in the united states returning to our convention center in early june, publicly traded firm that is one of the biggest customers of las vegas. it's a show that typically has 50, 60,000 attendees and we don't think it will be that size, but it will be a major show and we look forward not only to returning, but it certainly has evidence and an
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example of how to do this right. and we were excited about that. international visitation is a big component to visitation. both from a business travelers standpoint as well as a leisure traveler. we enjoy about 15% in a normal year and the location from our international fans and that has been almost completely shut down and has not really started to recover at this point and as ms. barnes mentioned, working to get those back working on a method so that they can have confidence in their travel plans and be able to confidently make the trips we think is critically important. >> thank you. and now recognize ranking
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member scott. >> thank you, chair rosen. >> i want to thank each of the witnesses for your testimony. miss dover, in your written testimony, they're facing historic labor shortages which could significantly respect the industry from recovering the severe downtown. can you share the reasons behind this and give you some examples from the members and as well as what they've done to mitigate the issue and talk about some of the challenges that your members are facing with regard to labor shortages? >> yes, thank you very much, senator scott. so, as i've stated in my other statement, that we're in competition with unemployment systems, so many people are making more money staying home and we're having a really tough time getting people to want to apply for jobs. we've 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,
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senator, that we're hearing from our members. i had a member yesterday 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 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're in hopes that we can find between the 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
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reverse some of those mandates, then i believe that we could begin to see people want to go back to work. so we're desperate and anything you all can do in congress to help us relief this burden, i hear from my colleagues all across the country that this is not just a florida issue, that it's everywhere. thank you for acting and allowing me the opportunity to talk about our very critical labor shortage. >> miss dover, so, if somebody-- if an employer tells employee they have a job opening, nationwide 7.4 million job openings, if an employer says they have a job opening, are they able to continue on unemployment or are they required to come back to work? >> they're not required, senator, it's my understanding, senator to could many back to work. they can make the decision and 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
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these jobs will not be available forever. i mean, we've all-- you've heard the panel talk about the need to rebound and we'll rebound, we're a resilient country and we will rebound, but one day, these be jobs that are people are turning down won't be available anymore. so we're reminding people to take these jobs while they're available. in florida, they're down to 4% so it's 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. we have just hopefully people will see the importance of coming back to work. >> thank you, miss dover. ms. barnes, we've seen the cruise industry at a standstill under the current c.d.c. restriction with no timeline to
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return. what impact has had not only on the cruise industry, but travel and tourism industries? >> 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 think that the entire industry needs to have clear guidelines on how to reopen with the timeline and the date certain to do so. and really, we are normally used to welcoming over 13 million travelers via cruiseship 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 the to sell gifts for their families at this and in those cities? so the impact has been quite significant p we believe that
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the industry should begin to reopen and is fair not to have clear guidelines. and we hope that the c.d.c. 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. >> thank you. thank you, chairwoman. >> thank you, senator scott. >> i'd like to next recognize senator klobuchar. >> thank you senator rosen. thank you as well to senator scott and i am excited to hear from our witnesses today. i know this has been 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
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commerce. proud of some of the work we've done with witnesses within brand usa and the work you're doing today. and i guess i 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. and finally allowed us to have an even playing field when it came to promoting our own country. this had as been a real gut punch for the tourism industry, obviously. we had to shut down the borders for international tourists. but as we see this, as we call it in, on lake superior, the lighthouse on the horizon, as opposed to the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine and what's happening. ms. barnes, you highlight that if international travel is not reopened soon, a total of 1.1
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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? >> sure. thank you, senator, for your question and for your tremendous leadership as the chair of the travel caucus in the senate. we are very grateful for your leadership and in particular, as you sought to reauthorize brand usa back in late 2019, which feels like a decade ago. >> we were smart to do is early. and thanks to senator blunt and others. >> and thank you. so as i noted, international travel declined by 76% and right now we're looking at a five year time horizon for recovery, but we know that we can shorten that time line and just in the losses for 2021, if
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we're able to reopen international travel by july, that can be 40% of the expected losses this year. so, we really need brand usa that is currently having a funding challenge because of the lack of international travel, usually it's coming in in a robust fashion and capped at 100 million which goes to brand usa. because that main isn't coming in and because the international borders are closed we need an emergency funding mechanism. what we think is about 250 million dollars in an appropriation, usually the 100 million that comes on international fees is matched by the private sector, but unfortunately, due to the decimation of the private sector right now, those matching funds are unlikely to be captured. so, again, if the appropriations committee could put forward 250 million, we think they will be able to do
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their work to bring back international travelers and make sure that that 26-1 return on investment is provided and i'll just note, this is we were talking about exports in 2019, the tourism industry provided a 59 billion dollar export for the country. so, it really is important beyond just domestic funding. >> very good. and then another bill that senator blunt and i introduced towards the act, directs the commerce department in consultation with the u.s. travel and tourism board in 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 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 with other industries and i guess i'll
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turn to you on you, mr. perez and by the way, i also want to mention the great leadership of chair rosen, as well as senator cortez masto, these issues with nevada. but one report from that in 2020. more than 670,000 hotel industry jobs and in your testimony, mgm resorts had 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-- >> thank you for the question, the employees are coming back not only in las vegas, but regional properties, and customers have started to come back, what we've seen is vaccinations on shots in arms
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are becoming more-- turning around relatively quickly. how sustainable is that, because in the winter, 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. >> no, it's okay, because i'm probably out of time, and my colleagues are probably glad that you forgot the question. but it was mostly about how long the hotel industry can sustain itself. >> and what i'll say and just end it, really, really quickly, and right now, it is a bit of a
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challenge particularly in las vegas and other regional properties, and the reasons mentioned earlier. and the, 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 fashion, but it's a process. it's a process. >> very good, and we hope you're working as well with carlson companies in minnesota, we're proud of the work they're doing, thank you. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. next i'd like to recognize in person, senator. >> thank you, madam chair, this committee, i think it's an important committee, bipartisan, all of these issues and looking forward to your and senator scott's leadership on this. ms. barnes, i wanted to ask you you mentioned the my visit
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america act and with senator schotts and senator king. it would establish an assistance secretary of commerce for travel and tourism, as you and i discussed, many countries have cabinet officials in charge of tourism. we don't have an assistant secretary. i'm not a big government guy, but when you're 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 me with some of your perspective for this act that passed out of this committee very strongly, every senator, but one voted for it and we're going to try and move it again very quickly this year. >> yes, thank you for your question and 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.
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that's why we have brand usa. and how important travel and tourism is to the industry and obviously has many things to focus on and we couldn't agree with you more, that we'd 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, hopeful that we'll be able to move it forward. it's also something that we talked to the travel and tourism advisory board at the national travel and tourism office at the department of commerce about and believed that 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 and the events and we need the whole of the industry focused upon and having a cabinet level
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position would absolutely help do that. >> great, thank you. my next question is for you and miss dover. i want to talk a little about the cruise ship industry and 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 and if you can give us a sense on that, but also, miss barnes, i saw that the u.s. travel association recently called for the c.d.c. to end its ban on cruiseship travel in america, and that's what our bill, senator scott and my bill, the cruise act that we introduced today, would do and they need the guidance and look, the c.d.c. does a good job on the science, they've had a tough year and an important agency. my state has worked hard dealing with the health issues, we've been the number one state
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in the country throughout the pandemic in terms of testing per capita, in terms of the vaccination rates per capita, we're proud of that in alaska, and fortunately, one of the lowest death rates per capita, but my state's economy is getting rushed. oil and gas, no help from the biden administration there, which is anti-oil and gas. and fishing, tourism and hurt so many industries. senator murkowski and i had a beating with the c.d.c. director a couple weeks ago, with all due respect to her, she didn't have a clue on these issues, we had another follow-up meeting with her recently, a lot of good news, the guidance on cruise ships would be coming out and at the same time there was going to be needs for new c.d.c. approval, cruising in america and alaska by mid july is what she thought we could do. none that have turned out to be true. so it's 0 for 2 on meetings
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with u.s. senators. i think somebody on her staff needs to be held accountable. she's obviously getting really, really bad information from people, but it's really disappointing, but can you and miss dover, if you have a view on it it, give us a sense why you think it's important to get cruising again, particularly when cruise ship industries executives are coming together saying, hey, we will have it, we'll put an escrow account in, if there's funding issues. we will make sure everybody on the ships are vaccinated. there's whole host of thing that can happen and do this safely and still taking into account the economy and the health impacts, let's face it, of americans out of work because of this ban. >> 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
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with 30 cruisers, 30 people on a ship equals one u.s. job. and so that's a significant contribution to the u.s. economy. and quite frankly, we think that there needs to be clear guidelines-- we can reopen this summer. oh, okay, sorry. so i'm sorry, but to finish, we do believe that we need clear guidelines very much to support the legislation you introduced today. we also don't believe that there should be a vaccine requirement to travel, but we do think that it is an important layer and we're very much advocating that folks get vaccinated. >> miss dover, do you have any-- madam chair, i know i go over about you important for florida, too. >> thank you for the question and for ms. barnes, she answered well, but in florida over 115,000 job are relying on the cruise industry, trickle
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down effect of what she's mentioned, hotel rooms, restaurants, and that 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 tori barnes said about, we don't believe that vaccinations are necessary. we know that the cruise line industry has been meeting around the clock putting in safety standards and there's nothing more important to them than the safety and hell and welfare of the people who want to cruise. industry is closed and florida has been open for business many months and believe our cruise line friends should be allowed to open up for business and get on the waters and start enjoying life again. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, now i'd like to
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recognize our chair senator cantwell and before i do, i want to thank her for helping us to organize this committee, it's our inaugural hearing and we look forward to doing great work here and we appreciate you allowing us to senator on this mission. senator cantwell. >> well, thank you, chair rosen and thank you to you and the ranking member, appreciate both of your interests in this subject of tourism and you're right, i couldn't be more committee had about a committee that's called tourism trade and export promotion because that's pretty much the state of washington and very much appreciate the two of you bringing an intense focus to the tourism aspect among the other responsibilities here. i wanted to ask our witness, i think miss barnes, you, senator scott and i introduced lafrpgs on what i just call another layer of infrastructure. you guys have articulated to
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our colleagues about the importance consequence of tourism, if it's such an important of of the economy, i went through china and there was a screening, i didn't know i was going through a screening, but 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 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 with addition a-layers in the airport. i think as we, as the travel industry put forward a guidance
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in may of last year, and has had the most great health and safety standards in hotels and airports and in airplanes and every dinner mode of transportation, as well as every segment of the travel eco system. so, we very much support anything that can help to continue safety and the health and safety first and foremost. again, we don't think that there should be a vaccine requirement to travel, we do think that that 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 10 years from now, like we were taking off our shoes, and still after 9/11, we want to make sure that we have
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something that is adjustable as we move forward from the pandemic. >> i think senator scott and i are talking about something basic infrastructure. so the concept is airports, where 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. i think we get a lot of push back. how many people have they caught at international airports? well, i'm not sure we've caught anybody lately at sea-tac, but these things are lines of deterrent and all of you are indicating how important the economy is to us. i think thinking long-term about what other challenges we face, i think it's pretty cost effective technology that's been used around the world. so nep hopefully we'll be able to get our colleagues to do the same here and better protect the travel in the public and
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thank you, madam chair, appreciate you calling that. >> thank you very much. senator cantwell, or chair cantwell and i'd like to welcome via web ex, senator sinema. >> thank you, madam chair, and for all of us. and arizona's tourism industry welcomes 46 million overnight visitors and generated over $25 billion in spending and state and tax revenue. for small businesses and arizonians who work in the tourism industry. in 2020 spending by domestic and international travelers declined by 35%, hurting many local businesses and putting many arizonians out of work. according to pair air tourism
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association covid-19 wiped out 10 years of job growth for arizona tourism. unfortunately, we're not out of the work. 2021 has seen an uptick to 2020 we're nowhere near the 2019 numbers. that means arizona businesses are struggling. i'll continue to work with my colleagues on the subcommittee for critical issues and help get arizona's tourism industry back to work. my first question is for miss dover. many eyes on the small business rely on travelers to support their operations. i worked with my friend roger wicker to provide relief to our restaurants. an effort became lost as part of the plan and soon, restaurants will be able to apply for 26 billion for structure relief. many from the paycheck
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protection program. could you share why the restaurants relief is different from ppp and how you expect restaurants to benefit from these funds? >> well, thank you, senator for your question. obviously, first i wanted to thank all of you for the support that you have given the industry and in passing the ppp, because all of those were critical to getting the industry popped up. and one of the things about your new restaurant revitalization act is -- they're going to look at minorities ab 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 very short order so we are quite concerned about that, but we, you know, we represent just as many small, independent, operators as we do large and so
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many of our small businesses are struggling, much more the ppp round and now the restaurant revitalization act, they would not be able to keep their doors open nor hire back their employees, so i want to thank you for that. the employee retention tax credit is critical, also, to our industry and we want to thank you for all of the efforts that you've put forth, specially in extending that, to our employers and our industry. >> well, thank you. my next question is for miss partisans barnes, according to the hotel and lodging industry, half are expected to remain empty and not expected to rebound until 2023. arizona is a destination for large business and group travel. according to the tourism, it
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accounts for half of hotel revenue. and these travelers may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. can you describe ow business and group travel is so important for the tourism industry and how the decline in travel has hurt arizona small businesses? >> thank you, senator for the question and i would echo carol dover's comments for hard work on the restaurant act and many issues on behalf of the industry and as you note, 60% of business travel has declined in arizona and we think that that is really important that we have clear guidelines for reopening business meetings and events. and that we really differentiate them from mass gatherings, we think that that is critical, that as other parts of the industry are able to open and other parts of the industry 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
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from a hotel perspective and business travel and when you think about it right now, while we're seeing that leisure market pick up and that will help for certain weeks. year and the weekends, that monday through thursday travel really isn't happening right now and until we open business travel up, it's not going to. so, the thing that we need to do is beyond just opening up business meetings and events, we need to increase the gathering limitations for structured meetings and there are layers of protection. and as we have more and more folks vaccinated that should be more possible. so we hope that the c.d.c. can open up business meetings and events. and again, 70% decline year over year is just not acceptable or sustainable into
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the future. >> all right, thank you. now madam chair, i think i see my time is expired. thank you for hosting this hearing. >> thank you, senator sinema. next i'd like to recognize senator hickenlooper via web ex. >> thank you, madam chair, and i think this is remarkably enlightening and informative session. first, i wanted to ask mr. hill, when we see the-- the importance to cities and regions and states of businesses and many places that it's the first place that a business executive will come to a different place, to a different city and maybe five years later they'll open an office there, it's vitally important for that not to mention the restaurants and hotels who accompany those visits.
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you are just as much captive to the loss of confidence of the restaurants and hotels and musical venues, all parts of hospitality, and i thought you might actually have the best protective how you're thinking to try to rebuild your confidence in your consumers who are a little more educated in many cases, but certainly are subject to the same fears and cautions as the rest of the american public. >> thank you for the question, senator and certainly for your support of our industry. and you're right, the confidence of business people and travelers both is critical to the return. we are seeing that, and people get vaccinated, their confidence returns, starts to return because of that process.
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and frankly, those who have chosen not to be vaccinated may have some of that confidence as well. and we encourage that to move forward at least as quickly as it has. that's critical. getting past the health crisis is what will really restore confidence. frankly, the messaging from our elected officials is important, too. consistency there, it's certainly 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 time to
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go back and travel, needs, i think, to be heard by all of our constituents out there. and it also, you know, a lot of people think of marketing as not necessarily generating information and providing the customers with that information. they're particularly, in this environment, having the ability to provide that information is really important. frankly, senator cortez masto's goal is designed to help with that. >> yeah, great, thank you. great answer and i appreciate that. mrs. barnes, i wanted to ask you, coming from colorado and having spent nearly 20 years in hospitality and tourism, we have a big state for outdoor recreation and in many cases they were not as negatively
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impacted as some of the other forms of hospitality and tourism, just because it's easier to social distance when you're outside hiking and things like that. but i do think that what we've seen disruption in the trades and i wonder if you've got a sense of what changes you've seen both in outdoor recreation, but total tourism and especially outdoor tourism, what changes, which are more likely to bounce back? is that a good thing or a bad thing? >> thank you for the question. we are seeing and have seen a significant interest in visiting our national parks and going to beaches and definitely being in those outdoor rec nation environments. that's something that in particular started last summer and certain destinations, certainly, fared better than
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others because not everyone has the same to offer. but you know, i think that that will be a trend for some period of time that we will continue to see folks wanting to be in outdoor environments. however, it really is important that we bring back the whole of the economy and diversify that by a more holistic opening of the country and of all of the experiences that all of the states and destinations have to offer throughout this country. i would say with regard to outdoor recreation, you know, a scene that's been important, making sure that we have our national parks are sustainable for the future, that we are cognizant of some over visitation trends, and so, i think that there will be a return to making sure that we are cognizant and careful with our public lands moving forward, but overall, i expect
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that the outdoor environments will be here to stay for some period of time and folks will welcome those opportunities to get out and explore. >> great, well, thank you very much. madam chair, i'll yield back to you. thank you. >> thank you, senator. i believe next via web exis senator blackburn. >> thank you, madam chairman. i appreciate this so much. and appreciate the time and the attention that is focused on this. ms. barnes, let me come to you first. international travel. in your testimony you talked about the c.d.c., dots, have a
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data-driven risk road map by may to rescind international travel restrictions by july, 2021. what are you hearing from the agencies right now? is there any concensus on the timeline for both inbound and outbound restrictions that we are hearing as we look to reopen our country's borders and allow this international travel? ... s and allow this international travel? i'm asking you this because in nashville, in tennessee, in nashville, in memphis, the great smoky mountains. you were just talking about people getting back, which, of course, the smoky mountains are the most visited national park in our entire park system. so let's talk about getting
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and people coming back into these tourism spots in our country. >> thank you for the question. i i think right now there is hesitancy to really create a roadmap to reopen international travel and that's something we really are urgingp the biden administration to put forth. r some agencies have a zero risk-based approach. some are interested in finding a path forward and throughout the pandemic we really heard the dated and signed should lead the way. and so we agree. we think there can be a data-driven science-based approach to reopening international travel. other countries, our competition are contemplating that. tion really, are already contemplating that. we have seen timelines put out by the united kingdom and others, and i really think that with a clear roadmap that contemplates vaccination rates and perhaps infection rates and others, that there will be a
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reopening. first and foremost, we need that timeline. we need a timeline that's certain, so when we look at may we are saying, "please put out a roadmap for reopening so that we can," you know, if it is starting with the uk and a travel corridor, let's do that. but we need to find a path. we need to have clear timelines and benchmarks and clarity from the federal government. we should be a leader in this regard. we are the united states of america, and we want to be able to welcome international travelers back to the u.s. >> sounds good. i think it was mr. hill who is las vegas tourism, is that correct? >> that's correct, senator. >> yes. you know, las vegas like nashville depends a lot on the event venues. you have talked about the
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workforce, and as our live event industry looks to recover, one of the things we have learned is about 30% of the people in the firms have left the industry and 30% of the support service firms have actually ceased to exist during the pandemic. so what do you see as the way back to the live event and the concert industry for areas like las vegas and nashville? how are they going to handle this workforce shortage? >> senator, i was in your state at the nfl draft a couple of years ago and nashville did such a great job. we learned loot. we learned a lot. i love your state and i look forward to the industry and the question. there is -- when you dissipate a vast majority of your workforce,
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the ability to get them back is very difficult. we are experiencing -- mr. perez mentioned we are experiencing labor shortages here, even though we are quite a ways away from a full recovery, but the ability to attract people back to the industry, particularly after they have been dislocated, they're concerned about the certainty of that job, is going to be an issue the industry is going to have to deal with moving forward. it is going to be difficult to do. >> we are going to have to do it. in nashville, a large part of the tourism industry is comprised of conventions and convention work. i know between june and the end of the year there are 80 major conventions that are on the
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books in nashville, and that would be about $200 million in direct spending and $16 million in state taxes. now, without clearly defined timelines, these conventions are threatening to cancel. you know, we kind of got that hanging out there. so are you seeing the same thing in las vegas and what are you doing to keep these in-person conventions coming your way? >> we are seeing the same thing, senator. it takes three, four, five months at times for these meetings and conventions to plan the event, to mobilize for the event, and it is expensive for them to do that. if they don't have some level of certainty that the event is going to be able to take place, we were seeing conventions cancel four to six months out on
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kind of a rolling basis. recently our governor provided some certainty. it is why we are able to move forward with world of concrete, which we think will be kind of a gateway event for the industry, not only here in nevada but to be able to show how to do it right, that it went well. the entire industry is watching that, and we think that should provide some confidence so that policy decisionmakers can provide that certainty moving forward. >> that's great. thank you so much. madam chairman, i yield my time. >> thank you. i'm going to go to a second round of questions. i know i have a lot of questions, but just one final question, and then ask for senator scott for a final question. so as i've been hearing all of the thoughtful testimony and questions from all of my colleagues, what i am really struck by as the bottom line is
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about infrastructure, how tourism infrastructure, how important it is. so we're going to be moving forward with infrastructure legislation here in the united states senate, in congress in general, and we have an opportunity to make investments that revive and enhance our travel and tourism economy. of course, in nevada our airports are gateways to everything we have to offer. before the pandemic, they were nearly at capacity. those who don't fly to us come to us by bus or car, way of highways that need major improvement, even expansion. the northern part of my state, a rail offers another place for visiting wonderful places like reno, alco and winamaka and rail service has slowed over the past year. what i would like to ask mr. hill and then ms. barnes, how key is passing an infrastructure bill that deals with the ports, for the cruises, of course, we believe the hearing but you can findin


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