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Bellingham Hosts Travel Works for America Discussion on Travel Legislation and Industry Growth

Thursday, June 27, 2024

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The U.S. Travel Association hosted a “Travel Works for America” Power Hour on June 18 at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham. The event featured Ranking Member Rick Larsen of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, along with nearly 20 travel and business leaders from Washington state. The discussion focused on the ongoing positive effects of travel on the local economy and businesses.

“Travel is a cornerstone for communities like Bellingham and others across the state of Washington and beyond, providing jobs for local workers and boosting the nation’s global competitiveness,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy. “We appreciate the opportunity to join Congressman Larsen for a discussion on how Congress can further support the growth of travel to his district and throughout the United States and applaud his work to help secure a five-year reauthorization for the FAA. Thank you, too, to the leadership of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism for warmly welcoming us for the meeting.”

“Travel works for Bellingham and Whatcom County, annually attracting over 3 million visitors, generating more than $750 million in visitor spending, and helping to support over 7,700 jobs,” said Dylan Deane-Boyle, President and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (BWCT). “BWCT was proud to host Congressman Rick Larsen for an important conversation with our leading tourism stakeholders. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with the State of Washington Tourism (SWT) and U.S. Travel on this event and thank Congressman Rick Larsen for his continued investment in this essential industry.”

“Congressman Larsen is a travel champion in Washington, D.C. and I know I speak for our statewide industry in thanking him for his leadership and work on critical initiatives such as enactment of the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization bill,” said David Blandford, CEO, State of Washington Tourism.

Key topics on the agenda included legislative efforts to modernize and enhance travel, such as the recent renewal of the Federal Aviation Administration. Participants also addressed the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2026 in Seattle and other cities, the need to reduce long wait times for U.S. visitor visas, and the development of air service to Washington state.

Additional discussions covered Washington’s ferry service, support and education within the hospitality industry, securing full funding for the new Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the reauthorization of Brand USA, the nation’s official destination marketing organization.

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