US Congressional leaders honored for work on travel policies

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The U.S. Travel Association on Wednesday announced the recipients of the fifth annual Distinguished Travel Champion Award: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN). Each is being honored for his or her exceptional leadership in advancing policies that strengthen travel to and within the United States.

U.S. Travel will present the awards today at U.S. Travel’s Destination Capitol Hill—the travel and tourism industry’s premier legislative fly-in event dedicated to educating policymakers about the power of travel, providing a forum for travel leaders to meet with members of Congress, and showcasing the industry as one of America’s most vital economic sectors.

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“In a year that presented numerous challenges for the travel industry, these lawmakers remained true travel champions, said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The members of Congress we recognize this year at Destination Capitol Hill have proved time and again that they understand travel’s critical role in our nation’s economic health. Their dedication to airport modernization, trusted traveler programs, updating our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and protecting our Open Skies agreements has kept these eye issues top of mind in Washington, bolstering travel’s role in creating American jobs.

“We are proud to honor Sen. Collins, Sen. Hirono, Rep. Huffman and Rep. Kustoff, and hope that other lawmakers and government leaders can follow their lead when advocating for travel.”

Sen Susan Collins, Maine

Sen. Collins, chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, has earned a national reputation for working across party lines. She is actively involved in congressional efforts to enact meaningful infrastructure investments, and is a vocal champion of airport flexibilities. Notably, Sen. Collins played a vital role in the effort to include an adjustment to the Passenger Facility Charge in the Senate’s FY2018 transportation funding bill.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii

Sen. Hirono sponsored the 2017 law permanently authorizing the APEC Business Travel Card program, which allows eligible U.S. citizens doing business in APEC nations to take advantage of expedited entry processing on arrival. Over the past few years, she led efforts to expand Global Entry to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, India and Israel, and to expand Customs Preclearance locations to airports in Japan. In 2014, Sen. Hirono was a leading advocate for the bilateral visa agreement that made 10-year visitor visas available to Chinese citizens for the first time. She has also pushed to expand TSA PreCheck internationally, and is a key supporter of Brand USA reauthorization in the Senate.

Rep. Jared Huffman, California

Rep. Huffman serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and has played a leading role in crafting key infrastructure legislation throughout his tenure in Congress. Recently Rep. Huffman, whose district includes the Sonoma Valley region affected by major fires last year, displayed leadership in disaster response and recovery efforts for the area that helped fuel an economic rebound for a major U.S. tourism destination.

Rep. David Kustoff, Tennessee

Rep. Kustoff played a key role in a House effort to protect America’s Open Skies agreements with more than 100 countries worldwide. Rep. Kustoff led a congressional sign-on letter urging the Trump administration to protect Open Skies—a successful effort that persuaded the administration to use an existing Department of Transportation process to resolve disputes over the agreements raised by the Big Three U.S. airlines.