by Loren G. Edelstein | March 27, 2017
The U.S. Travel Association on Monday announced the recipients of the fourth annual Distinguished Travel Champion Award: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). Each is 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 on March 28 at U.S. Travel's Destination Capitol Hill, the travel and tourism industry's 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 in Washington and showcasing the industry as one of America's strongest economic sectors.

"These lawmakers are true travel champions, and have demonstrated as much in their day-to-day work in the halls of Congress," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "The members we will recognize this year at Destination Capitol Hill understand the vital role travel -- both domestic and international, business and leisure -- plays in our nation's economic health. Their dedication to enhancing travel security, modernizing our transportation infrastructure, expanding the Visa Waiver Program and advancing other travel-friendly policies has helped keep our industry a major creator of American jobs.

"We are glad to honor Sen. Gardner, Sen. Nelson, Rep. Chu and Rep. Massie, and hope that other lawmakers will follow the lead of these champions when advocating for travel in their states and districts," he added.

Following are details about the honorees:

Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado

Sen. Gardner, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, is a forceful and effective advocate for modernizing our nation's transportation infrastructure. He is actively involved in congressional efforts to enhance travel security and efficiency, recently bringing the CEO of Denver International Airport to testify before the Aviation Subcommittee at a hearing on improving TSA operations. He was a co-sponsor of the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2015, and a vocal supporter of the 2014 legislation reauthorizing Brand USA into 2020.

Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida

As the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Sen. Nelson has worked diligently for travel priorities. In the past several years, he has fought for public health resources to address the Zika virus and measures to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program; introduced a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan in the Senate early this year; voiced support for local control over airport financing; and cautioned about haste and overreach in the recent executive orders on travel and immigration.

Rep. Judy Chu, California

As a member of the House Travel and Tourism Caucus, Rep. Chu has been an outspoken supporter of travel-friendly policies, from transportation funding to preserving the Visa Waiver Program. In 2014, after years of work, Rep. Chu introduced legislation to create a National Recreation Area in California's San Gabriel Mountains, resulting in much of the area being declared the nation's newest national monument. She was also a co-sponsor of legislation to reauthorize Brand USA into 2020, and has hosted a Travel Talks roundtable with local travel leaders in her district.

Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky

Rep. Massie serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and has been a vocal advocate for travel and transportation infrastructure priorities. Earlier this month, he introduced bipartisan legislation focused on giving local authorities control over airport funding, the Investing in America: Rebuilding America's Airport Infrastructure Act of 2017.

More information about the Distinguished Travel Champion Award is available here.

Learn more about Destination Capitol Hill here.