Visit America Act

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 28, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6965, the Visit America Act.

The bill along with H.R. 7820, the Travel and Tourism Act, from Representative Dunn, and H.R. 4594, the Restoring Brand USA Act, from Representative Bilirakis, have represented bipartisan efforts to assist our tourism sector with economic recovery post-COVID-19.

Representative Bilirakis is not here speaking about this bill. He is home in Tampa, Florida, and represents the Tampa Bay area, as all of us know. Mr. Speaker, our thoughts and prayers are with his community in Florida and the other States that have to deal with the remnants of the rain. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Back to the bill, while I am pleased that Representative Bilirakis' Brand USA legislation was signed into law this year, more work and bipartisan efforts are needed to build upon Representative Bilirakis' efforts to increase tourism.

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for all industries, but the travel and tourism industry was hit especially hard.

According to testimony by the U.S. Travel Association before the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, at the end of 2021, international travel spending was 78 percent below prepandemic levels.

This bipartisan legislation can support the U.S. travel and tourism industry and address the declining percentage of international visitors to the United States. The Visit America Act will help by directing the Department of Commerce to develop a 10-year travel and tourism strategy with annual goals for the number of international visitors to the United States.

Again, I thank the sponsors and cosponsors of all of these bills that we have considered at the Committee on Energy and Commerce. I would like to give special recognition to our colleague, Representative Bilirakis, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, who, as I noted, is back home, duly focusing on the hurricane response and serving his constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, we have the greatest country in the world. I love when people want to come see the beauty of our great land and meet our great people. We have a wonderful opportunity for people to come see our country. The tourism industry is a great industry, as are the people who serve in it.

Mr. Speaker, I urge the passage of this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.