Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) hosted a delegation of Active Member tour operators and Associate Members in Washington, D.C., on June 11-12, 2024, to advocate for key tourism industry issues. The 40+ attendees from across the nation met with Capitol Hill officials, including Congressional delegations, members of Congress, and industry representatives, to discuss sustainability, passport and visa application processing delays, promoting US tourism, Real ID, and more.

The caucus began with updates from Marc Lerro, a program analyst for the TSA, Department of Homeland Security, followed by Alex Lasry, deputy assistant secretary for Travel and Tourism, Department of Commerce. Lasry highlighted the vital economic role of inbound tourism and the importance of the Biden Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy as the US prepares to host major international sporting events in the coming years.

Andrew Newhart, vice president of Government Relations for US Travel, addressed the group on the impact of visa wait times on inbound tourism and sustainability advocacy efforts. Other speakers included attorneys from the US Department of Transportation; Jessica Klement, vice president of Advocacy for the American Society of Travel Advisors; and Lena McDowall, deputy director of Management and Administration for the National Park Service. Representative Mike Collins (R-GA-10) concluded the morning session with his remarks.

In the afternoon, USTOA members visited the Capitol for meetings with leading members of Congress to discuss core issues, including sustainability, promoting US tourism, passport application processing delays, the visa processing backlog and visa waiver program, national parks funding, travel infrastructure, aviation consumer protections, and Real ID.

Dale, USTOA President, remarked, “USTOA’s twelfth Congressional Caucus was a highly productive gathering, emphasizing the value of the travel and tourism industry. Advocacy remains a major pillar of USTOA, crucial for guiding our country towards a sustainable and responsible travel and tourism future.”

Dale also extended appreciation to the sponsors of the USTOA Congressional Caucus, including the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board, which hosted a dinner at the Sri Lanka Embassy on June 11; Museum of the Bible, meeting venue sponsor; Crum & Foster, host of the morning sessions on June 12; and CCRA Travel Commerce Network for providing the name badges.



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