By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam and other U.S. territories, as well as freely associated states, are among the recipients of $196 million in federal grants to help rebuild their tourism industries that have been heavily battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grants were made available through the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced today.
“Rebuilding the travel and tourism industry is a key component of the Biden Administration’s plan to build back better and restore the competitiveness of the United States on the global stage,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.
The grants, being awarded to 24 states and territories, are part of EDA's $750 million tourism relief assistance under the State Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation, which includes $510 million in State Tourism grants.
“The state tourism grants give states and territories the flexible opportunity to boost their local tourism industry and ensure that jobs are restored and tourists return safely," Raimondo said.
EDA said the federal investments will support marketing, infrastructure, workforce and other projects to rejuvenate safe leisure, business and international travel.
For Pacific jurisdictions, the grants are distributed as follow:
Hawaii: $14 million for travel marketing campaigns and business technical assistance.
Guam: $2.4 million for tourism marketing, research, and development of tourist attractions.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: $1.4 million for workforce training and other activities.
American Samoa: $1.4 million to rehabilitate existing tourism sites.
Palau: $1.2 million to identify and prioritize expansion and/or renovation of critical tourism sites.
Marshall Islands: $1.7 million to increase travel and business activities between the FSM, Kiribati and Nauru and strengthen the internal and external transportation networks.
Federated States of Micronesia: $1.9 million to support the implementation of national marketing initiatives.
EDA said these grants are designed to alleviate sudden and severe economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic by supporting a wide range of activities to assist the critical travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries.
“The coronavirus pandemic devasted the travel and tourism industry – the linchpin of many local economies across the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo.
“EDA is proud to give state and territory leaders the resources to build back better through locally-led strategies that uniquely address the challenges and opportunities of their state’s travel tourism and outdoor recreation industry," she added.