Commerce secretary touts help coming for tourism industry in relief act

Raimondo visits Seacoast businesses

April 26, 2021


On a brisk day at the beach, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen met in Hampton with business owners and workers who have borne the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raimondo, the former governor of Rhode Island, said the stories she heard are all too familiar.

"I come from a coastal state, a small New England state, and I feel their pain," she said. "We have a lot of communities in Rhode Island just like this that have struggled."

Raimondo was in New Hampshire touting the coming impact of relief act dollars on tourism, along with the potential of the $2 trillion jobs plan to overhaul crumbling infrastructure and fight climate change, an issue of particular concern on the Seacoast.

"There's a role for industry to play with innovation, green technologies, new technologies," she said. "By the way, all of that will create jobs."

The summer workforce is another area that needs federal help. The young, overseas students who fill tourism jobs up and down the East Coast are facing delays getting their visas because of a hold placed on the program by the Trump administration.

"That moratorium didn't expire until March 31, and so we are behind in processing those J1 visas, and because of COVID, it's more of a challenge in the countries that they're coming from," said Shaheen, D-New Hampshire. "So, I think there's an interest. I heard it from the secretary today, we've heard it from the White House and my conversations with people there, that if we can speed up that processing, that would help a lot."

While the effects of the pandemic are still being felt, the tourism industry on the Seacoast is expecting a pretty big year.

"The tourist statistics so far here in Hampton -- you can't call a hotel or motel and get a reservation in June or July," said John Nyhan, of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. "They're booking out into August."

By:  Adam Sexton
Source: WMUR