WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in introducing bipartisan legislation to provide economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism, travel, or other special events. The Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act would modify existing Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant programs to provide direct support to the hard-hit tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and help increase public confidence as these industries look to reopen safely in the future.
“As a former North Dakota Tourism Director, I know how much states rely on tourism for jobs and funding, but this important industry could be one of the last to fully recover from COVID-19,” said Senator Cramer. “The STEP Act uses an already-existing grant program to provide direct support for struggling travel and tourism businesses and gives them more opportunities to show the American people they are safely reopening.”
“Nevada’s world-class tourism economy—and the families it supports—have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “When hotels, restaurants, and event venues across the state welcome visitors, the public and employees alike need reassurance that travel and events are safe. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to fund grants for sanitation, staff, and marketing that will allow Nevadans and visitors alike to safely connect as the state continues to reopen.”
“The travel and tourism industry is a critical part of our state’s economy and one that’s been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Blunt. “This bill will help tourism-related businesses, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support, get back to full speed as quickly and safely as possible. I urge all of our colleagues to support this bill and the hardworking men and women who have made Missouri a national and international travel destination.”
“From Lake Superior to the Mall of America, Minnesota is home to exceptional tourist destinations—but as travel has been limited during the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry has been hit particularly hard,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation will provide much-needed support to help states, cities, towns, and organizations that promote tourism weather this health and economic crisis—and help boost local economies throughout Minnesota and across the country.”
The travel industry has historically taken the longest to recover from economic downturns, and travelers understandably need reassurance that travel is safe during a pandemic. The STEP Act would authorize $10 billion in funding through the EDA to provide grants for tourism and event entities impacted by COVID–19. Grants are available to any entities (states, tribes, regional groups, nonprofits, quasi-governmental orgs, and privates businesses) that:
Applicants will be asked to provide the local negative economic impact, including job losses, and there is no local funding match requirement. The funding would support:
The text of the bill is available here.