Representatives from North Carolina travel and tourism, including GRCVB president and CEO Dennis Edwards, were in Washington, D.C., recently for Destination Capitol Hill, the U.S. Travel Association’s annual event for leaders in the travel sector. The group had successful meetings with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and Rep. Deborah Ross (D-N.C.)

The North Carolina contingent included Edwards, Wit Tuttell (executive director of Visit North Carolina), Mike Butts (executive director of Visit Charlotte), Amanda Baker (Visit N.C.) and Tiffany Burnette (Visa, Durham).

At the U.S. Travel Association's Destination Capitol Hill on April 5-6, 2022, more than 230 leaders from across the industry came together in-person to urge Congress to take action to revive the travel sector of our economy. 

What follows are some of the talking points from the U.S. Travel event supported by the team from North Carolina.

The Situation
Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. travel industry experienced 10 straight years of growth, and travel was a significant economic driver representing one in 10 jobs.

Domestic business travel spending remains 56% below 2019 levels, and international travel spending remains 78% below 2019 levels. We not only need to get back to pre-pandemic levels but also make up for years of losses.

Destination Capitol Hill: What We're Asking CongressDenny Washington graphicRebuild the workforce
Ahead of the busy summer season, we’re asking Congress to release all authorized H-2B visas and support structural reforms to temporary worker programs. 

Restore international inbound travel
We continue to push for the removal of pandemic-era restrictions. Currently, we’re urging the Administration to remove the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound travel to the U.S. and allow the federal mask mandate for public transportation to expire on April 18.

In addition, Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) is leading a bipartisan House letter to the President, asking him to lift the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated travelers. We’re encouraging House members to sign on to the letter.

Reignite in-person business meetings and events
We’re asking Congress to help revive business travel spending by ensuring any year-end tax package restores deductibility of entertainment and business expenses and extends full expensing for business meals beyond 2022.

Reimagine the role of travel and tourism in improving global competitiveness. We’re advocating for the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021 (S. 3375), which establishes an Assistant Secretary of Travel and Tourism at the Department of Commerce.

Edwards also attended the U.S. Travel Association's two-day board of directors meeting April 7-8, 2022, where a half-day was spent participating in a facilitated, highly interactive strategic guidance work session to address the critical and complex workforce challenges and create collective solutions industry-wide. 

“This was an extremely important and productive week for the tourism industry nationwide,” said Edwards, “and I’m thrilled that I was able to have a voice in the many pressing issues we are facing today.”