Standing beneath the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) on Monday announced the introduction of a bill he believes will help increase tourism, improve the economy and create jobs in the state of Nevada.
Heck was flanked by leaders in local government and the business community as he described the impact of HR 3039, the “Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act,” a bill he is sponsoring. The legislation would streamline the visa process for foreign tourists wishing to travel to the United States and Heck quoted estimates predicting it could create as many as 1.3 million jobs and pump $860 billion into the U.S. economy.
“Nevada needs these jobs. America needs these jobs,” Heck said.
The bill has garnered bipartisan support, with the two other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation, Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Mark Amodei (R-NV), signing on as co-sponsors.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Democratic Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager appeared at the press conference to praise the legislation along with representatives from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Caesar’s Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the Nevada Restaurant Association.
Heck said that many citizens of foreign nations who want to visit the United States become frustrated with the process. Often, it can take as many as 3 months just to get an interview to apply for a visa. This frustration has led many international tourists to visit other countries instead of the United States, costing the U.S. in general and Las Vegas in particular precious tourism dollars.
Mayor Goodman called tourism the “lifeblood of Southern Nevada.” She said that international visitors make up about 18% of the total tourism dollars spent in Las Vegas and that they stay longer and spend more than domestic tourists. Goodman stated her goal is to increase international tourism to 30% of total spending in the next few years. She thanked Representatives Heck and Berkley, the two Congresspeople whose districts include portions of the City of Las Vegas, for H.R. 3039.