Governors focus on resuming travel and tourism at the NGA summer meeting

Governors focus on resuming travel and tourism at the NGA summer meeting

A look at the discussion Governors had with travel and tourism industry leaders about the industry’s impact on economic activity and job creation.


At the NGA summer meeting, governors met with top leaders in the tourism and travel industry to discuss how the industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion also focused on the significant economic impact that industry has on American states, businesses and individuals.

WITH President and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson began the plenary session, noting how the vital travel and tourism industry “promotes billions of dollars in economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs in our economies. Beyond the economic impact, however, going out and exploring the 55 states and territories offers all kinds of advantages. It improves mental well-being, arouses curiosity and generates good will ”.

Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy, at the US Travel Association, then moderated a discussion with the speakers:

  • Amir Eylon, President and CEO, Partner, Longwoods International;
  • Al Hutchinson, President and CEO, Visits Baltimore;
  • Keiko Matsudo Orrall, Executive Director, Massachusetts Travel and Tourism Office; And
  • Chris Thompson, President and CEO, Brand USA.

Speakers provided insight into how the industry continues to recover after a significant downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of the number of international travel, for example, the speakers explained that current projections show that the United States is likely not to return to the number of international visitors of 2019 until 2025. Although travel has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, Speakers expressed optimism about the industry’s resilience and many positive trends, including rising consumer demand for travel and return and job creation. Speakers also detailed some of the trends they are seeing in relation to Americans ‘travel preferences and concerns, with most of the travelers’ COVID safety concerns being eclipsed by concerns related to inflation, high gas prices, and complications. of air travel.

Governors have faced a number of challenges and opportunities they are seeing in their states and territories.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi shared that the tourism industry in the area “had a record year last year … believe it or not, in the midst of the pandemic, and this year we are doing even better”. The Governor shared how Puerto Rico has decided to direct American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to hotels. Puerto Rico has a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and Governor Pierluisi “targeted ARPA funding to double the funding of our DMO. In Puerto Rico, this DMO called Discover Puerto Rico was created several years ago … it promotes Puerto Rico consistently … and I tell my fellow governors to think about [utilizing a DMO] because it works “.

Maine Governor Janet Mills shared examples of effective ways that Maine has helped tourism industry staff members navigate the health and safety standards implemented during the pandemic to help both employees and tourists. “One thing we did,” Governor Mills said, “was to use our community colleges to set up some sort of three-week training program for safety, health and safety purposes, so that people who work in the hospitality sector … have been trained in safety measures and sanitation. ” The Governor also shared that while Maine has not yet returned to the tourism numbers seen in 2019, “tourism spending is much higher than it has ever been before.” The Governor also expressed concern that Maine and other states are facing a shortage of housing for the workforce that is proving to be “a major obstacle to the supply of labor for industry.”

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu echoed concerns over housing challenges for the workforce, sharing that young people want to work but “can’t afford it. There is literally nowhere to live. They don’t want to drive an hour to work in a hotel. ”Governor Sununu also talked about how the rise of the vacation rental industry by the owner (Vrbo) has created a“ big economic shift ”in the industry he believes. needs to be addressed.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker also addressed concerns about the impact of the housing shortage on the tourism industry in Massachusetts, sharing that “we have begun building housing in various locations and supporting housing construction on the Cape specifically for the people who will work there. because there is no place to go.

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota addressed some of the unique considerations faced by the 13 states that share a border with Canada, including the challenges of staffing at border crossings, making it more difficult for Canadians to visit the United States for travel or other financial commitments. Governor Burgum also noted that “one of the things I see in our state is that the tourism sector has not adopted enough technology” and “there are technological solutions that would actually reduce demand for the amount of work we need … and we “will push North Dakota to promote equal automation tax credits for the service industry.”

Watch the full session:

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