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tv   Tourism Officials Testify on COVID-19 International Travel  CSPAN  May 18, 2021 11:06pm-12:34am EDT

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♪♪ a hearing on the economic impact of covid-19 on international travel to the u.s. from the senate commerce subcommittee this is about an hour and a half.
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good afternoon and welcome to the second hearing on the subcommittee on tourism, trade and export promotion. today's hearing provides an international travel and tourism to create and restore jobs. we will examine the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic and international travel to the united states and the ripple effects of related industries such as hospitality and tourism. we will also discuss regional impacts on communities and workers hardest hit by the
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decreases in international travel to the united states. in nevada, international travel andtr tourism are the lifebloodf our economy and our airports have been the gateway to the silver state for millions of domestic and international tourist and business travelers. 2019nd alone, the international airports all over 50 million passengers generated nearly $35 billion of economic outlook for the gross domestic product, so our tourism is pretty important to us and that's why the economic slowdown caused by this pandemic has been so devastating. the international travel slowdownsl has meant job losses not only in our amazing hotels and casinos and world-class conventionss halls but also at e
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airports themselves to the concessionaires and other related to smallut businesses. it's also devastated many of our restaurants, retailers, lives, entertainment venues, rental car operators, street vendors and so much more. with a daunting challenge to overcome and recover from the pandemic and turn towards economic growth, we must invest and promote tourism and a greater level than ever before. and the numbers are staggering. international inbound travel to the u.s. and decreased by more than a 75% in 2020. dropping nearly 80% that was a major driver of the 30% unemployment rate in nevada in april of 2020.
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and it's one of the reasons we still have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. it may not come as quickly as parts of the country that are much less dependent on tourism. despite an overall 6% unemployment rate nationally, the leisure and hospitality industry still had a 13% unemployment rate in march of this year. we heard in the first hearing the subcommittee held a domestic leisure travel will bounce back while other business travel will take much longer. improved federal guidelines can ensure an expedited return to the economic growth in this sector. it's critical because foreign travelers play an important role in tourism heavy economies. in 2019 alone, international visitors in the united states
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sent over $250 billion in our country. it likely will not occur until 2024. if we want to move the timeline up, we've got to act now. we have an excellent panel of witnesses both virtually and in person to share expertise on the subject to provide insight and recommendations for the best path forward and of course take questions from the members of the subcommittee. i'm particularly glad to have with us today rosemary from the international airport to share her perspective on how the las vegas airport system dealt with the challenge posed by the international travel over the past year and by bringing international travelers back to nevada and the rest of the country is just so critical for
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the travel and tourism economy. but we also have representation from the nation's primary organization dedicated to marketing the united states as the premier destination for international travelers and ofn course we also have the greater miami convention but at the perspective of another world-class american city. individuals fully vaccinated may forgo mask wearing situations and individuals on trains, buses, lanes, other forms of public transportation and the transportation hubs such as airports and train stations will need to continue to wear masks. despite the pandemic continuing into 2021.
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two other tourism hubs in the united states. it's my hope that today's hearing of the subcommittee is to understand the challenges for the depressed travel caused by the pandemic and will provide a forum for a robust discussion on how to encourage the resumption of international travel. i would also like to submit for the record a letter from the rental car association.
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thank you all again for being here today and i look forward to hearing your experiences and expertise with us and i will turn over to the ranking member for his opening statement and introduce the witnesses. ine want to thank the chair for hostingim the meeting today. this hearing today and thank you each. i want to recognize chris thompson, chris wasas in visit florida when i was elected and we started a path of continuing investment in over an eight-year period of time we took the number in florida and there had 80 million to 126 million by the time i left office. every 87 is another job so i ran on jobs and visit florida did a good job and grew and i want to thank chris for that and recognize bill, president and president andceo of the convents kbureau.
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you cannot find more of an advocate for tourism. than bill. we had the opportunity to work together and he's a true champion for the states travel industry. i want to recognize rosemary. all of us enjoyed flying into the vegas airport. they do a great job and i told the chair my first year in office we went to rio de janeiro and i think it was the biggest tourism conference in the world every year and the group that has the biggest and the really nice spot was las vegas. they do a really good job of promoting las vegas. i want to thank everybody for their hard work. florida is a global travel usdestination and we try to make it the number one travel
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iddestination in the entire word and the competition of course was vegas. peopleer from all over the world come to enjoy the attractions and all the state has to offer. we worked hard to grow the industry by the way there is you can win the best state parks every six years. there's only one that's ever one twice and only one state that hase won it three times and it's the great state of florida. it's unfortunate what happened in the pandemic and it has the biggest impact on traveling to tourism in the industry and its hurt a lot of people that rely on they don't have a guaranteed salary theyst are relying on people showing up on things like that we have a bipartisan bill
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wither senator cinema. introducing the industry and to restart the businesses in the communities for the cruise industry making progress with the cdc which was frustrating fore quite a while as the natin works to recover and get back on track i along with the chair will do everything we can to support the industry in florida, nevada and across the country so we have to figure out how to get people back to work and i look forward to hearing from the witness.
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>> thank you, senator scott and now i would like to introduce the first witness clark county's airport system directly employs more than 17,000 people and the 2019 handled in excess of 50 million passengers. you are recognized now for your opening remarks. a. >> thank you and good afternoon. to beginng let me thank senator cantwell. senator rosen who is presiding over the subcommittee i do appreciate the remarks setting the story for us along with
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ranking member scott i'm glad that you enjoyed those conferences to share the perspective encouraging the resumption of travel especially international tourism which is vital to las vegas as well as too many other u.s. airports and communities. restarting international air travel is a critical step to supporting the recovery of the tourism-based economy. prior to the pandemic nonstop international service was a wonderful success story. the number of passengers for each consecutive year capping out at nearly 3.8 million in 2019.
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they enjoyed nonstop service to and from 11 different countries around the globe. now that number is down to one, mexico. over the first four months of 2021, the international volume has less than 80 million's. we hear from the members of the air carriers expressing interest and quickly resuming many sites with pent up demand with customers who can't wait to return to the united states once the current travel restrictions particularly those affecting the non-essential are finally lifted. these airlines ask us point blank what is the u.s. doing to reopen travel and when will the airline be able to resume
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bringing vacationers and the conventions to las vegas? to take advantage of this opportunity ideally in time for the 2021 travel season, we need immediate active leadership from the u.s. government. we must develop a risk based roadmap while still protecting the health and safety of the traveling public and the communities and in my testimony i've mentioned examples of risk-based approaches that are hurting elsewhere around the world for the sake of time i will onlyny summarize those pois today. the international civil aviation organization is a specialized agency of the united nations and with support of recently put forth a testing cross-border measurement manual. we advocate for a flexible approach to opening borders and adjusting for the conditions
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such as vaccination rates and the severity of covid-19 outbreaks at both the destination and the point of origin. the united kingdom has put in place its own risk-based measures thatin have opened its borders toto select countries te european union is expanding a certification process to open movement among those that have been vaccinated and have received a negative test result or have recovered from. these differ greatly from the united states where the presidential proclamation bands nearly all travel from specific countries including the united nations and the united kingdom. there is a better way and the nation must move quickly to implement existing solutions.
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i would ask that we engage in a worldwide discussion on the standards for the authenticating testing and vaccination standards for international travelerss. we all know america has been recognized as the world leader in commercial aviation and this is a critical time for it to leave the world back to global connectivity and economic growth. and finally, congress wasn't able the necessary investment to make the changes to our airport infrastructure including many health-related considerations
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it's eroded by more than 40%. such investments would then help airports to attract new carriers and existing ones to expand by promoting the competition and lowering into the communities. and this would all be done in a matter that promotes safety, health and increased traveler confidence. i sincerely appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today on behalf of the airports across the united states and i will be pleased to answer any questions you have at the appropriate time.
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for the entire state of florida. as you know i was born in jacksonville and went to school in gainesville and boca raton theo numbers went up and kept going up.
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can i still call you governor? we go that far back in traveling together and the distinguished members of the subcommittee, we are excited about a subcommittee that starts with the word tourism. i don't think that has ever happened in washington, d.c. so thankts you. >> we will take a point of order. we wanted to add a verb to the title so i i think we have the distinction of being one of the only committees that has an active because the trade and exports need promotion the
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economic damage to the nation's hardest hit sector, travel and tourism it is my honor to provide the testimony on reviving international travel and tourism and to create and restore jobs. with your indulgence i'm going to be reading my comments to ensure clarity of the important points presented for your consideration and interest of brevity. i see in the written testimony and the congressional record. >> throughout my three decades stewarding the destination efforts they employed over
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145,000 people. travel was the second largest export generating 15.8 million non-exportable american jobs in a trade surplus of $51 billion. tourism is our number one job generator in greater miami. it was responsible for 38% of all state sales taxes collected with international visitors in the lion's share. there are critical dollars that directly fund transportation, healthcare and other vital public services. this came to a screeching halt in march of 2020. 16% of which are international.
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it's more than i mentioned down over 70%. miami is america's gateway leading the country and the percentage of international versus domestic travelers. one third of the international. with our borders closed too much of the world, the impact to the economy and the tourism industry is especially staggering. in one year international travel dropped to 64% from 6.9 million to 2.5 million. seemingly overnight, the international airport is the nation's third busiest international travel cost more than two thirds of its passenge traffic. more alarmingly international visitor spending has plummeted 70%.%. this is critical as well. one third of the visitors are international. they are responsible for 50% of the visitorcr spending in miami. how do we fix this?
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we see a light at the end of the tunnel. we are now in a position where we can restart international travel and restore jobs without compromising safety. we need to act quickly to implement the appropriate measures to lift the travel restrictions and restore demand. we have the right protections to safely restart international travel but lack a public health benchmark or definitive timeline to reopen. we asked the cdc the department of transportation as we begin to
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reach a saturation point the vaccinated individuals should be allowed to visit the u.s. without having to have proof of a negative test. additionally, recently, the need for the quarantine has effectively been eliminated as international passengers must now provide proof of a negative test within 72 hours of departure. we believe the presumption of travel between the low risk countries can safely resume and the u.s. should be a global leader in this restart. we can begin by establishing public health corridors between the u.s. and other low risk countries such as the uk and canada. the cdc could use benchmarks such as infection vaccination rates to determine when the restrictions can be lifted for other countries. we must allow the industry to safely sail again.
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one of florida and miami is most important and powerful economic engines lost a projected 7 million passengers 16% international. it's essential we restart this sector. finally, we must ensure that they promote the destination globally and that it be fully funded. they will play a key role helping revive international travel. i am gratefulke for your leadership and remain hopeful that all segments of american travel can very soon be safely restarted. the industry depends on it as do an american jobs. thank you very much for listening. >> thank you for that great segue to the next introduction
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dedicated to increasing to the united states through marketing and promotional efforts. mr. thompson has over 30 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry and under his leadership is nearly tripled its partnership networks and more than doubled its partner contribution offerings. you are now recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you for holding this very important hearing. i would also like to thank senator blunt, senator klobuchar. it is a privilege to be here representing the organization. the mission is to increase international visitation and expand to the nation's economy and enhance the image of the usa
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worldwide. assi a public-private partnershp we work with the travel industry and federalwo government to inspire the world to explore the diverse experiences and to communicate the entry and policy. the work provides vital marketing channels that amplify the u.s. travel industry efforts to reach potential visitors and connect with international sales networks and media around the globe. since 2013po we've generated a 7.7 million visitors and 25 billion of spending. 47 billion of taxes and supported over 45 million, 45,000 jobs per year. we returned $26 for every dollar of marketing we invest in the market.. these accrue to the communities alike and support employment well beyond the tourism sector. our reports to the congress for fiscal year 2019 and 2020 which
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were submitted as part of the record are the best detailed information on our activities and our results. the pandemic has had d a devastating effect on those communities and businesses and individuals relying on thee visitor numbers. inbound international travel has been the v number to export and it's been the top services export. in 2019 the exports worked 200 delete delivering 51 billion of trade surplus directly supporting 1.2 million jobs. in 2020 event including the strong performance in the first quarter the international travel fell back 6% as you promoted. travel exports fell by 64% to $83 billion year-over-year. the lost jobs will not return.
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it's critical because now how he howslowly of the international segment will recover in the years ahead and because of how little the destinations and ramps will be able to invest and compare to the international marketing compared to what they have to do for the local economy. unfortunately the pandemic defunded by the travel promotion act and it is jeopardizing our efforts to be as helpful as we have been in the past. it's funded by contributions from nonfederal sources and matched by those from the fees paid by international travelers during the prior fiscal year. we've received a dollar for dollar match up to $100 million for each dollar of contributed that clears up the process from the department of commerce. the factors challenged the
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model. first after collections are stagnant resulting in $62 million being available in the current fiscal year and as little as 10 million in the next fiscal year. second the travel industry more broadly continues to face i significant hurdles to be able to reach the contributions to the brand usa and the brand usao extension act of 2019 raised a minimum portion of cash contributions from 30 to 50% which is a major hurdle for the partners to meet the contributions they've done historically. these are structural impediments only congress can solve. that's why the travel and tourism advisory council recommended an extraordinary $250 million appropriation to brand usa outside of the normal process to provide the resources to hasten the international travel recovery. they also recommended temporary suspension of the 5050 cash to income ratio for thels greater maximum flexibilities.
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it would allow us to help return to levels of arrivals and spendingtu to 223 levels as opposed to 2024 levels a year earlier than the forecast. these results will go unrealized with action from congress. the 2020 will see the growth rates and returns to global travel as the world begins to move again. how the country responsible determine the trajectory of the recovery and many other parts of the economy. the challenges must be outlined to produce and launch campaigns in time to channel the demand to
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the united states when the time is right. thank you again madam chair for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to answering questions anybody might have. i guess we are going to go right into questions here and i'm going to start by talking a little bit about the internationalreht airport becaut is a gateway to nevada's tourism economy and a normal time one of the busiest airports in the country in the world. so, as you know before the outbreak of the pandemic, on track to surpass its previous record of 51.5 million trafficrs in 2019 with up more than 6% in the first two months of 2020. the momentum of course is the result of covid-19 for the first time the assassination of president kennedy in 1963 and the las vegas strip was totally
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shut down and brought air travel to a virtual halt. international travel to las vegas was especially hit hard with over 780,000 international travelers passing through and all of 2020 compared touar about 3.8 million passengers. how is the international travel really impacted america's airports as general would use a and what about the airport workforce, the small huge effect. the international airport employees 16,000 people directly but more importantly, indirectly and directly we support 25% of southerne jobs in nevada. so that of course did take a big
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toll on all of the companies that do service the airlines and airports and the concessionaires by furloughs and just some of the smaller companies not being able to makea it through. we had our international benefits of $6.2 billion. and what's really important is for our town, the per capita spentt for the international visitor is almost double from that of the domestic. domestic is very nice at 700 i think $75 but international was almost $1,500 per visitor. so, that is the stimulation that we need to have back not only forb the airport but for all of the companies in southern nevada.
11:42 pm >> of the 17,000 jobs support more than 17,000 families and it goes on and on. i would like to move now towards the promotion because the rescue plan set aside $750 million in grants to assist to those that could have jobs and gdp losses to travel tourism and the outdoor recreation sectors. congress allocated the funds as a part of an effort spearheaded byby my colleague from nevada senator cortez masco because we recognized that the pandemic disproportionately impacted states like florida, alaska, nevada, missouri. we had senator blunt here in the room and the communities are dependent on travel and tourism. in april i joined senators cortez and sending letters requesting these department not only disburse the funds expeditiously and responsibly, but also to make clear the tourism, marketing and promotion
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activities are eligible for such funds so that we can increase the safe travel that can drive the economy. so mr. thompson, you spoke about this in your opening statement. there are direct funds will supplement some of the travel promotion work but they want to go to every city and state in need and that's where you come in so i worry with your funding tied to the international travel fees you just might not have the resources to support the mission and enhance the efforts that we need coming out of covid. so talk to me about what you need.mi are you financially equipped to help the u.s. recover from the worst international tourism drought and history and if you are not, what do you need us to do to help? >> chairwoman, you are exactly right. this pandemic brought our industry to its knees and disproportionately affected the hospitality industry. we often talk about the things
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that like the u.s. what we used to attract people to the usa and to miami. but it's also the fabric of our communities. i think this pandemic and its impact on the industry hasbu brought that to the forefront. i think our industry had 20% of its overall jobs and that represented nearly a third of all the jobsur that were lost. so, many of our partners are most engaged at the local level. the funding source has been that the taxes that were cut off so they would hit them right away it was a delayed reaction to us because the funding sources dependent on the visitation and what is collected in the year prior. when we got into this current fiscal year there was not $100 million for us to match. as we come out of the pandemic and the domestic economy has come back probably quicker than anybody had anticipated, and a lot of what is returning the
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travel and tourism industry to what it needs to be in order to reach the levels in the past is great and that has to come back before we can do our international tourism but we are going to be prepared to be able to respond when the time is right so our challenge is the funding source, the lack of funds and that's why in working with the travel and tourism board in the department of commerce they came up with the recommendations that in the some help would need outside of what we normally need. there was nothing wrong with the funding model it just got its knees knocked out from under it and we will have the opportunity when the time is right to start promoting international travel so the measures that we laid out and that i highlighted in my oral testimony of the written testimony were the ones that will be helpful to put us in the best position to help the
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industry when they needed and nd what they depend on us for. i like to recognize ranking member scott for his questions. >> right now we are seeing significant labor shortages. some folks found other opportunities. number two, you hear that maybe they are making more money not working then working. given the fear that we all have, people dying and this pandemic.
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given what we were facing, being open and having no business, no domestic business, no international business and more people out of work i think that is something some companies we see are raising the salaries and we have a robust economy. we build hotels, we've added air service. the economy has grown and these are moving from other places i've heard and they are coming to miami and florida but it's something the industry is looking at and is going to solve but it's better than the alternative that was out there that we were facing. >> you said you get $26 back. can you explain how that works.
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>> that converts to actual bookings and through the partnership with oxford economics they are able to lift across the marketing channels to the points we touch in the process and we don't i don't think claim to say we are the savior to the market to the united states but we do say that the way that we touch and influence travel around the world from 11 major markets direct to the consumer to 40 plus markets in some ways contributes to what's going on and the direct investment it is $26 we get back in the federal treasury. >> yes sir. have you ever proposed anything
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senator, we were given an opportunity to be given resources tied to our production and i would welcome that challenge. >> the numbers we had was 5-1. it would be interesting if we could come up with a way that we funded and we could see the dollars coming back would be something all three of us would do if we could figure out how to doee it as it impacts all of our states. >> i would love to do it if we could figure out how to.
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so, what have you done to make people feel more comfortable? i've proposed a few bills to try to get reports to do more to make people feele? comfortable. we are relying on miami and international and so you've got the same issue. what do you do to get people to feel more comfortable to fly in? >> we quickly came up with a campaign with all the different layers from disinfecting to to communicating especially at the beginning of it some states have different directives and mandates of what was required so
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it was a several layer approach as well as the employees that were there. we want to make sure our employees felt comfortable from the disinfecting against all the messaging and we've had ambassadors going out and reminding everybody. we made sure we had the marketing at the baggage claims. a lot of things that we have discovered over and over whether it's 9/11, the recession, no matter what, so we always message it out and when the mask
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mandate came up of course what did masks and it was a huge success and we did all of this for consumer confidence. we know that the lot was with the airlines and everything they were doing. we work very closely with our airlines to get the consumer wconfidence that travel is goig to be
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having this consumer confidence and having airlines work with airports and each part of the experience,in tsa so that flying customer does feel confident and will not only take one trip, but take more than one. >> thank you. >> next i would like to recognize senator blunt. >> thank you for holding this hearing and for naming the committee in such an appropriate way and for putting this great panel together. as mr. thompson pointed out on the return from foreign travelers, they just stay longer
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and spend more money than the individual tourist and the other thing is they almost always like us better when they leave even if they thought they were going to like us they like us more than they thought i so investmet in travel is also a great investment in diplomacy as well as that investment in foreign travel. i think you said this year the visa waiver fee that produced about $66 billion, -- i'm sorry we've been dealing with such big numbers here we must be based on the amount of money. the 62 million were you able to
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match that? >> our$ partners that bring forward particularly cash side with the 50/50 requirement we have to also have a dollar match in cash so we are way behind where we would normally be. we are meeting tomorrow and bringing a platform to tell them we will do our best to match the 62 but as you well know, there's 100 for us to be able to match and we have never not matched it. next year it may be 10 million.
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part of what happened when we set this up and i sponsored the original legislation is the amount over was going to go into general revenue. there is $433 million in an account that's never been transferred out my guess is that next year people will be able to match if we can get the help we need and the facilities that need to be run i mentioned at thatthe leadership press confere
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earlier they have other locations around the country that was the first person that mentioned to me we were not competing in this area around the world where other countries were advertising here we were not advertising there and we began to look for a funding source. they run a series of hotels. the other things that need to happen at the hotel is a clear shortage right now as well. are you seeing this same problem? >> yes but i want to announce breaking news here.
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miami has matched money for you, chris. and also that is number one we have the international gateway that i've gotnt to say the fact that there is not funding for this, the money is available and there must be a reason for this to unleash of the money but we've got to match money and we are ready to start tomorrow. we had a strong relationship for the number one, two or three nsinternational gateway. we had that question earlier.
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they can'to get the staff and uc we are working on that once again given the problem we had a year ago we are going to solve that and it is solvable. >> direct marketing organizations early on. >> we absolutely did.
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next i would like to recognize > senator blackburn. thank you madam chairman. i want to come behind what to senator blunt was talking about with getting people back in the process. in your testimony you said we had the right protections to restart international travel. in tennessee this is something
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that we hear a good bit about. my question to you is why has the cdc, dhs not come up with a roadmap to facilitate international travel. why have they not come up with thee protocols and the pathway for this when are these agencies going to come together and develop this plan that would be effectively communicated with international travelers w and te airline and the interested parties? >> that's beyond my pay grade. for the government to hear from local officials who are on the ground every day.
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this is another area of the white house not taking a positive action is causing a problem. i'm saying it's something the white house may be doing right now. i'm not h taking sides that i've been doing this for a long time and wherever it comes from you pull people together and get the agencies together and say we
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need to solve this, so that's my florida born and raised response. >> your thoughts on that. >> our relationship is managed in the department of commerce.e there's two great resources there. one i already mentioned was the travel and tourism board appointed by the secretary for the cross-section to inform the decisions and then within the department there's a travel policy council which is representatives from all across the u.s. government those are issues that have affected the travel and tourism industry certainly as it relates to navigating our relationship and thee federal government.
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>> let me come to you on the event venues because this is something that has a tremendous impact on our state of tennessee and we have tried to work and have worked time leslie with of the administration on the shutdowns and to get support from the businesses. we have a lot of support industry like motorcoach companies. one of the frustrations has been the lack of awareness from the administration to recognize the entire ecosystem and how important that is creating relief programs and getting people to the point that they cann get to recovery. what are you seeing in a lot of the venues?
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>> certainly those in your state are a major attraction and tremendous benefit to the economy, and as it relates to the tourism opportunities, you know i think as it relates to where we are today we first and foremost to follow the direction of our health officials and our public policy officials tied to what the health officials are saying. in our opinion, as soon we can get the venues open and make all that is the united states available getting the domestic economy up and running again it was mentioned in the testimonies here that consumer confidence was critical. everything can happen but if we don't gain the confidence of our friends and visitors around that they can come and experience the experiences that they have in the united states, that is a big issue. so we are as optimistic as we haveveat ever been.
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the vaccinations certainly moved us along that path and we feel like it is going to be sooner or later. there's a tremendous amount of frustration with a lack of action in addressing the whole ecosystem. thank you all for your time, madam chair. thank you. next i would like to recognize senator sullivan. thank youma madam chair and this to the witnesses. a really important topic a lot forget how big our tourism sector is for the whole country 2.3 trillion i think is the number. ten jobs in america as related to tourism, so the chair and the ranking member know that.
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i know that you agree on the importance of the cruiseship industryry and we've been workig to get the cdc to kind of, you know, we want to keep people safe but we also don't want to crash entire economies and businesses. they finally started to move, which is good to try to salvage the tourism which unlike florida is not so year-round let's say. do youou have any thoughts on hw important that is for the economy and not just in your state but overall? >> thank you. that was a major part of my presentation both verbal and
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written. and by the way i have cruise to alaska. vethe cruise capital of the wor. you talk about jobs. right now the cruise capital of the world 60% of the passengers were international connecting the international, there's $2 billion of development going on import miami which is a downtown port and i do a fair myself. i can tell you that the local government has helped the cruise
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lines. these are huge companies. finally as you said there is movement. there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel and it looks like people are speaking. this is a huge industry for miami. in downtown miami the cruise lines are probably the biggest purchaser of hotel rooms all year. >> in my stated is huge for the small businesses. so many thousands of employees, so we try to salvage and we are getting there. but the cdc has to keep the pedal to the metal and don't forget about the great state of alaska as well and salvage this summer so we will keep working
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together. this issue goes more to the international side, but normally they are good neighbors including russia. they closed the borders. we are talking about international travel. people can't even drive to my state. ait's been very frustrating. do you have a message for the neighbors hear about tourism, a lot go to canada for tourism and that obviously hasn't happened but what is your sense of there and if you could also comment on my visit america act we are getting ready to introduce that again. we think that is a really
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important bill to bring in for the international tourists to elevate as an important council of government hearing there's not one senate confirmed official to charge and most foreign governments have ministers, cabinet officials. we don't even have a senate confirmed person. but do you have a thought on the visit america act and what's going on in the border that is hurting international tourism? >> yes, senator. a quarter of those come from canada. but it is a border issue and opening up at the border. we are hopeful that the
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governments are working on that and certainly when that happens your state, the entire united states and of florida received l good portion. again it isn't a demand issue. i think that there is demand for them returning to what they normally do but we have to get thee border situation resolved. as it relates to your visit america act, i would say that the profilet raises within the administration is something that will benefit the industry. we talked a lot about the economic impacts and about the diplomacy that it does as far as bringing people andou cultures together. so i would applaud and thank madam chair for the naming of the subcommittee and ranking member scott being able to bring the profile industry to a committee like this and then up through the commerce committee i think is great. >> i am not a big government guy. i think the government's growing
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way too much but the fact that there's nobody -- the secretary of commerce is doing a good job, but there's nobody in the government that gets up every day at the senior level land says my job is to promote american tourism and the giant component of the gdp and jobs related to that. we don't have that person. most countries don't only not have that person but they have an entire ministry and cabinet officials so we think that it will help and we are glad that you support it. >> as far as the industry goes i think you will find a very receptive audience. >> i have cruised into your state and senator scott's state and found them both wonderful. what i do want to say we are going to go to some second-round questions, but i do want to say that this is out of the 50 states and territories, every single one of them has unique
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beauty for every state and that's why people come here and that's why it is diplomacy and people enjoy it and they like us even more when they see the natural beauty that is everywhere across the united states. i'm going to ask. we cruise on lake tahoe. can you talk about how bad your numbers were? senator rosen just put in perspective you were the biggest
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airport but miami did 44 million? >> the international airport and its peak was the only airport the united states served by more than 100 airlines, 110, the only one. it is a hub but the numbers went down. it's got minority businesses. we come in and out of that so it's very successful and this infrastructure money is needed but it's our numbers went down. what can we do. two things, open up international markets and get to the cruising gone again.
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>> the numbers are very light because of some of these health issues so if it changes from day to dayer you can't come today, u can't come tomorrow so once again it is coming back and also in the last two months miami international airport has added three carriers that were not in miami before. that's how robust our destination is and how much demand for travel to miami to south florida if you will international tourism to get the
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cruise industry going it's a big market.
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it's been disappointing this whole time. there's two things the federal government could do. i know from my state and yours and all three of us it would have thea biggest impact. >> that was a few days ago. maybe some things happened now. maybe they are watching the hearing. good for them. i didn't know the numbers were
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so big to the cross-border and i think that is actually important. we want to continue that. have you had discussions with their ministries to help them on the vaccine i can't imagine that the community is in canada that also rely on tourism so what are you hearing and is there anything we can do? >> i think we are all on the same boat. it's not a demand issue as soon as the borders are open you will see a return to travel like you've not seen before because everybody's been sheltered in place for 15 months. so again to get to gets back to the political conversation between the two companies, the health related issues and then our ability to be able to
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deliver a safe experience. i think both countries are in better shape than they were, but certainly that is a decision. that has to be made by the two governments. >> thank you, madam chair. >> my understanding at least wherets i live there's a lot of canadians that come down and the issue wasn't that they couldn't come down but the issue was they couldn't go home and if they went home, they had to be quarantined and then on top of that they didn't have any vaccines. my understanding is it didn't work and then the problem we have with getting the cruise ship going. by law if we go to seattle or the american port.
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>> right now the senate has already moved and suspended that for several months in the house right now we are likely going to pass the bill we passed last week it shouldn't be an issue in the senate so that will be a waiver on the issue but it's something we might want to look at more permanently. i don't think any state in the united states should be dependent in a huge way on the economy relative to tourism or other things. so we have a solution right now working its way through the congress that we might be looking at longer-term.
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>> mid to late 1800s and one of those bills that we are now looking at. a lot of people in alaska are asking why and i don't want to jinx it bute' it is hopefully te house moves on it and we can move beyond that to challenge particularly the cruise ships in alaska. >> i want to say one of our largest trading partners we need to get tourism trade exports going all around and today is
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just one piece. we will be talking about the others soon enough. one of the last questions here as we talk about all these other things one of the big drivers like you spoke about is convention business travel we know how important it is business travelers that come any bring their families to come back to visit or whatever they want to do later so these questions are to both the tradeshows and international travel is essentialss for the convention centers not just the great ones we have in nevada but all around the country and they support the local governments and a whole host of small businesses that support them as well. they eat at restaurants and for us gambled at casinos, they go shopping, all of those things so weta will start.
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what strategies are in place that right now they increase te number of conventions that we hold and that rely heavily on the business what do you think we might be able to do and congress to help attract more international travel to get on a plane during the pandemic but there is such a slowdown of business. what do you think we can do. >> this morning they unveiled their plan to reopen to 100% so
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that's a very positive sign going forward. but i think first from that it's opening the borders. we know that we have demand and we know there is a destination that the passengers would respond. we know they want to resume. just as a side note in las vegas about 1.6 million i'm'm from canada so that is a huge impact. it was a little bit different because the government.
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i hope it is a stepping stone going forward. to have international travelers attending the conventions and we are going to have the first big one and it is an international component. of a course the largest conventn has about 60,000 internationally we hope by january will be already for that one. weti will be ready to accept. what strategies are in place for you that you are just ready to respond and greet all the travelers and what do you need from us to be sure that you are
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ready? >> that is an important component and sometimes we don't talk about it but we talk about the indications and all of that but we had a reimagined convention center essentially and we like to lead by example so it was last october 21st we had the first face-to-face virtual annual meeting for the convention center. we had 250 people in that convention center all spaced out and we showed that it's safe to meet in miami and that became the gold standard. what awaited is took that and showed all of the potential customers and said listen, you can come to miami and miami
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beach and have a convention safely. what we do every single weekend the staff is watching this as we speak we bring the meeting planners face-to-face to miami because the meetings and conventions are important. none of the destinations miami, las vegas, nobody can prosper without a robust convention business we've had an investment. we just had the jeweler's jewels international showcase march 202nd. they had record attendance. all they talked to us was how can they bring more business to miami beach. we sometimes forget it but it's important to the jobs in our
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community. >> i think to all community is what we are doing can help set the standards and then mr. thompson of course you can help us market to those around i the world and let people knowar that it's safe to come and travel. we are going to close the hearing for today. i want to thank you all for participating in today's hearing. the record is going to remain open for two weeks until june 1st 2021. so there will be senators from this committee and others that will be submitting questions to all of you and for the record they will do that by tuesday june 1st. for those of you testifying today, we ask that your responses be returned as quickly as possible and in no case later than two weeks after received. i appreciate all the work you are doing to promote our great travel and tourism industry and that concludes today's hearing.
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thank you. >> .. >>
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[inaudible conversations]
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