Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today introduced legislation to strengthen the American economy by promoting infrastructure that fosters travel and tourism. The Transportation Resources Adding Vital Economic Longevity (TRAVEL) Act would make sure that federal, state, and local governments are taking travel and tourism needs into account as part of their transportation plans, helping boost economies like Nevada’s that have been hit especially hard due to travel and tourism restrictions during the pandemic.
“Because of Nevada’s world-class travel and tourism industry, millions of people come to the Silver State every year, fueling our economy—but also putting stress on our roads and commuters,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “We need to rethink how we design infrastructure, and my legislation will make it easier for Nevadans and visitors alike to get where they’re going safely and efficiently. I’ll continue my work in the Senate to strengthen Nevada’s tourism industry, while also thinking through how we can make progress to address needs like Interstate 11, mobility at Lake Tahoe, and movement across rural Nevada in order to promote our economic recovery.”
This legislation was developed with the U.S. Travel Association and Nevada stakeholders to meaningfully support various high-priority transportation challenges like the Interstate 15 and 80 corridors, the loop at Lake Tahoe, and the construction of Interstate 11.
“Travel supported $2.6 trillion in economic activity and one out of every 10 American jobs prior to the pandemic, so prioritizing it in the planning of transportation projects makes abundant sense,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “That is especially true as travel seeks to rebound from the fallout of COVID, which hit it harder than any other industry. We are grateful to Senator Cortez Masto for advancing this smart piece of legislation, which will especially benefit Nevada’s tourism-rich economy.”
“The TRAVEL Act will bring key investments to our transportation networks in Nevada, improving mobility for our workforce, communities, and visitors alike,” said Nevada Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall. “I applaud Senator Cortez Masto’s efforts on this key piece of legislation that will greatly benefit Nevadans.”
Under current rules, the Department of Transportation has focused on using highways and infrastructure to transport freight in order to strengthen the American economy. But in Nevada, as in many areas of the country, economic growth also depends on travel and tourism. The TRAVEL Act would require transportation departments to take travel and tourism into account when making plans and decisions. It would do the following:
- Establish that supporting tourism, recreation, and business travel is a national goal;
- Launch an office of travel and tourism within DOT;
- Create a $1.2 billion national travel mobility program for projects to decrease congestion, improve safety, and promote efficiency of long-haul travel;
- Require states to create state travel and tourism advisory committees to offer input on travel and tourism priorities, projects, and funding needs;
- Require cities to factor travel and tourism into their transportation plans;
- Make program changes to enhance travel and tourism and mitigate their impacts on eligible communities through federal block grants, funding for rail projects, and federal air quality improvement programs.
Cortez Masto has led bipartisan efforts in the Senate to support the travel and tourism industry, especially during the pandemic when it has been so hard-hit. During COVID-19, Cortez Masto has delivered billions of dollars to the state’s businesses and secured flexibility for the gaming industry. During negotiations for the American Rescue Plan, Cortez Masto called for and secured $750 million in funding for the Economic Development Administration to help states like Nevada that have been impacted by revenue loss in the tourism and travel industry, in addition to critical tax credits that allow Nevada’s hospitality and tourism businesses to access credit.
As part of her Innovation State Initiative, Senator Cortez Masto has worked to improve Nevada’s infrastructure, decrease congestion, establish smart transportation solutions, improving transportation planning, and reduce pollution.
This legislation is supported by Nevada Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall, Nevada Department of Transportation, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Washoe County, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Tahoe Transportation District, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Latin Chamber of Commerce, NV, Nevada Department of Tourism, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, and the Culinary Union.