The $1.7 billion omnibus budget bill that's meant to support the U.S. government through the next nine months also offers new support to the U.S. travel and tourism industries, including the first-ever top-level government executive to take charge of travel and tourism policy across the government.
The bill fund the Omnibus Tourism and Travel Act, which mandates the position of Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism, with a first-time-ever job of creating a national strategy for the first time. The act also creates a U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, composed of industry figures, which will collect data on domestic travel and tourism to support the strategy-making work.
Also in the bill is congressional oversight of the visa-issuing process, which has become a major bottleneck for foreign visitors, who often have to wait weeks to months for a visa, making it impossible to plan travel. The U.S. Travel Association has estimated that U.S. businesses will lose $11.6 billion in 2023 on a drop of 6.6 million international visitors who skip travel because of the delays.