June 07, 2021
BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce the Visit America Act, which would formally authorize the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and create an assistant secretary position within the Department of Commerce specifically focused on bolstering America’s travel and tourism industry - a high-status position that every other nation in the G20 already possesses. The assistant secretary would be tasked with coordinating a strategy across multiple federal agencies by establishing annual goals and recommendations. The legislation would also require the development and implementation of a recovery strategy to assist the travel and tourism industry to better recover from the COVID–19 pandemic. In addition to Senator King, the Visit America Act is led by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
“Each year, millions of visitors flock to Vacationland for a taste of The Way Life Should Be, as families are just a day’s drive or a quick flight away from sites that deliver lifelong memories without straining household budgets,” said Senator King, Chairman of the National Parks Subcommittee. “From our picturesque coastline to our lush forests and awe-inspiring mountains, there is something for everyone in Maine – which is why many small businesses throughout Maine have built their business models around the busy summer season. However, the coronavirus pandemic’s effects showed us just how vulnerable these businesses are to sudden shifts in consumer demand. In order to support the tourism industry and speed our economic recovery from the pandemic, we need to redouble our work to boost this vital part of our national economy. This legislation will unite a variety of government efforts under one federal office and one leader, strengthening our efforts to help the tourism industry grow and thrive.”
Senator King has fought to support Maine’s tourism industry and related economic sectors both prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, he voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan, which will allocate at least $56 million to support Maine small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The legislation also included a King-backed provision to create a $28.6 billion fund specifically designed to support independent restaurants and small franchisees struggling due to the pandemic.
In July 2020, Senator King wrote an op-ed to advocate for more federal support for Maine’s seasonal small businesses. He also sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling for additional funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s programs in future coronavirus economic recovery legislation. He is a lead sponsor of the Restore Our Parks Act legislation which was signed into law last year to address the maintenance backlog at national parks. The newly-enacted law will directly support 40,300 jobs and indirectly support 100,100 jobs over the next five years, according to a study by the National Parks Service. Additionally, Senator King has cosponsored legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country through marketing campaigns that promote international travel to the United States. That legislation was signed into law in December 2019.