The U.S. Travel Association has organized a leglislative “fly-in,” bringing hundreds of travel industry representatives to Washington, D.C., to talk about the power of meetings and travel to create jobs and fuel the U.S. economy.

More than 300 delegates arrive March 16 for a day of presentations and an evening of networking. On March 17, they will filter through Capitol Hill engaging with members of Congress. More than 295 individual appointments are scheduled.

Travel’s Message to D.C.
The delegation’s overall message is "pro-growth, pro-competition, and pro-traveler," according to U.S. Travel. Specifically, the organization is pushing the following issues:

• Raising the cap on passenger facility fees levied on air travelers in order to generate more funds to improve the level of U.S. airports so they meet global norms. (No U.S. airport makes the list of top 25 airports worldwide.)

• Continuing to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program, which allows pre-screened travelers from countries that meet certain requirements to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to obtain a tourist visa. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., several drastic measures were floated in Congress that could have killed the VWP, according to U.S. Travel. But the advocacy organization ended up being successful in working with Congress to make smaller and more targeted changes that could increase security but would also maintain the benefits of the VWP to the travel industry and the U.S. economy. U.S. Travel also published a Visa Waiver Program “Myths & Realities” document to educate members of Congress and the public.

• Presenting an idea for legislators to think about: “When in crisis, remember travel.” This refers to travel being caught in the crossfire of quick reactions to world events such as terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks, and budget crises. The message to Congress is not to inflict collateral damage on travel just to enact legislation that makes constituents feel more secure. Travel is America’s number-one services export and supports one in nine U.S. jobs. Disrupting it is not trivial. Bottom line: “Do no harm to travel” when trying to resolve crises.

Rewarding Allies
U.S. Travel also is presenting its annual Distinguished Travel Partner awards, which recognize government and travel industry decision-makers who have helped to advance pro-travel policies. This year’s honorees are: Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, along with Julie Heizer, Deputy Director of Industry Relations, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office; and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, led by Annette Rummel, Ph.D.

Read more about the U.S. Travel Association’s priority issues.