Long on the travel industry’s wish list, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that would establish an assistant secretary of travel and tourism within the U.S. Department of Commerce for the first time.

Hikers on the move. Source: AdobeStock

The vote was 325-93, and the measure, introduced in March, would now be taken up by the U.S. Senate.

“Creating a high-level leadership position within the federal government focused on industry concerns, as the Visit America Act does, would protect the industry from unnecessary setbacks due to conflicting and confusing policy decisions,” said Eben Peck, executive vice president, advocacy, for the American Society of Travel Advisors in a statement.

In June, the travel agent association had around 200 travel advisors and suppliers lobbying Congress in favor of passage of the Act.

The association said the U.S. is the only country in the G20 without a federal agency or official of cabinet rank dedicated to tourism.

In addition to creating the assistant secretary of travel and tourism position, the legislation would mandate that the Commerce Department set annual goals for international visitation as part of a decade-long travel and tourism plan.

Like most industries, the travel sector wants to increase its influence over governmental policies.