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Gaming, tourism groups eager to work with Biden administration

Updated January 20, 2021 - 5:39 pm

Associations representing gaming, travel and hospitality say they’re ready to work with the new Biden administration to expedite recovery.

Las Vegas is heavily reliant on all three industries, which have faced economic challenges in the wake of the pandemic. On Wednesday, heads of the U.S. Travel Association, American Gaming Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association and Nevada Resort Association said they hope to see recovery progress under the new administration.

“President Biden is acutely aware of the economic pain the pandemic has inflicted on our industry and its workforce,” USTA President and CEO Roger Dow said. “It is well within reach to return America to the record growth the travel industry experienced prior to the pandemic through national strategies that will revive the American economy.”

U.S. Travel Association, American Gaming Association

Before the pandemic, the travel industry supported one in every 10 jobs. Dow said USTA is ready to work with the new administration and Congress to rebuild the industry and bring back millions of workers.

“We are encouraged by the administration’s focus on providing additional, direct relief to businesses in the hardest-hit industries,” he said.

Dow believes President Joe Biden’s affinity for Amtrak — he earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe” after taking thousands of train rides between Delaware and Washington, D.C., as senator and vice president — illustrates his desire to connect U.S. cities and facilitate greater travel and tourism. He also pointed to Harris’ experience as a senator from California, where she represented one of the country’s largest state tourism economies.

“(Harris) has seen firsthand travel’s positive impact on local communities,” Dow said.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said he looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress to advance the $261 billion U.S. casino industry’s recovery.

“Gaming — an economic engine in communities across 44 states — has been decimated by COVID-19, but our industry has always strongly responded to adversity,” he said in a Wednesday statement. “Together, with our new leaders in Washington, we can get millions of American hospitality employees back to work, reinvigorate our industry, support our small businesses, and bring desperately-needed revenue to our communities.”

American Hotel & Lodging Association

As of November, Nevada had about 301,700 people working in leisure and hospitality, a 14 percent drop compared with the year prior, according to the Department of of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers said in a Wednesday letter that he urges Congress and the new administration to develop a longer-term stimulus package that will allow employees to get back to work and ensure the survival of the hospitality industry.

“We continue to face historically low occupancy rates, massive job loss, and record hotel closures,” Rogers said. “Our industry needs help to retain and rehire our associates, revive our local communities, and restart our economy.”

While the hotel industry’s recovery looks promising with the rollout of vaccines, Rogers said they will take months to distribute widely. Travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

“Hoteliers look forward to working with President Biden and his Administration on other key priorities, including comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, and infrastructure investment,” he said.

“AHLA will continue advancing the needs of hotel employees and our small business operators during this critical time for our industry and we stand ready to support the new Congress and Administration.”

Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said the advocacy group welcomes the opportunity to provide the new administration with information on Nevada’s unique tourism-based economy. The association represents 76 gaming resorts across the state.

“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress on policies that end the pandemic, restore travel and tourism, speed Nevada’s economic recovery and help bring more Nevadans back to work as soon as possible,” she said.

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Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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