Blunt unveils two bipartisan bills to help support tourism industry

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, recently introduced two bipartisan bills aimed at supporting the tourism industry during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Feb. 8, Sen. Blunt cosponsored the Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act, S. 307, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel or other special events. 

If enacted, S. 307 would modify existing Economic Development Administration grant programs to provide direct support to the tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and help increase public confidence as these industries look to reopen safely in the future.

“The travel and tourism industry — a critical part of our state’s economy — has been devastated by the pandemic,” Sen. Blunt said on Feb. 12. “The STEP Act utilizes an existing program to direct much-needed support to tourism-related businesses as our economy works its way back to full speed.”

On Jan. 28, Sen. Blunt cosponsored the Protecting Tourism in the United States Act, S. 115, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which would direct the U.S. Commerce Secretary to conduct a study and submit to Congress a report on the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry in America, according to the text of the bill.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly devastating for hardworking Missourians whose livelihoods depend on the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries,” said Sen. Blunt on Feb. 19. “Having a full understanding of the pandemic’s impact on jobs and the economy will help us ensure we have the right policies in place to support a full recovery in this critical sector.”

Such data is especially important for his home state, he said, “with all of our incredible parks, attractions, restaurants, and hotels that make Missouri a top travel destination.”

Companion legislation is led by U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) in their chamber, according to Sen. Blunt’s office, which said the U.S. Travel Association supports the measure.