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Apr 3 -- The Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce, invites comments by June 2, 2023 regarding a new Travel, Tourism, & Outdoor Recreation Data Collection.

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) leads the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be driven locally, EDA works directly with communities and regions to help them build the capacity for economic development based on local business conditions and needs.

To effectively administer and monitor its economic development assistance programs, EDA collects certain information from applications for, and recipients of, EDA investment assistance. The purpose of this notice is to seek comments from the public and other Federal agencies on a request for a new information collection for recipients of awards under the EDA American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation. This is aligned with ensuring that Federal travel, tourism and outdoor recreation investments are evidence-based and data-driven, and accountable to participants and the public.

The ARPA Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program is divided into two components:

-- State Tourism Grants: $510 million in direct awards to help states quickly invest in marketing, infrastructure, workforce and other projects to rejuvenate safe leisure, business and international travel.
-- Competitive Grants: $240 million to help communities that have been hardest hit by challenges facing the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors to invest in infrastructure, workforce, or other projects to support the recovery of the industry and economic resilience of the community in the future.

Each state or territory is utilizing its directly allocated funds to engage in activities that best support their travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors. These activities include but are not limited to workforce training, new construction or upgrades to existing tourism infrastructure, tourism marketing and promotion, and tourism-related economic planning.

The competitive grant program is distributed across 126 awards to support communities across the country as they rebuild and strengthen their travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors. The competitive funding is expected to generate $1.1 billion in private investment and to create or save 10,291 jobs , according to grantee estimates. This program was designed to prioritize equity, and as a result, more than 50% of competitive awards are expected to directly benefit historically underserved communities and populations. In addition, $29.3 million across 12 awards is supporting coal communities and $21.2 million across 9 awards is supporting Indigenous communities.

The EDA research grantee will study the effectiveness of the ARPA Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Program, which aims to (1) expand the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation economy; (2) create equitable opportunities for underserved populations; (3) build diversified local recreation economies that are resilient to future economic shocks and climate change; and (4) foster higher-skilled, higher wage job opportunities. To that end, EDA will conduct an electronic data collection survey of ARPA Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation recipients. A subset of the recipients (30) will be engaged in phone interviews to narrow a selection of projects for the development of case studies.

A total of 332 respondents for the electronic survey and a subset of 30 for the phone interviews. Data will be collected electronically and via phone interviews.
 
EDA is particularly interested in public comment on how the proposed data collection will support the assessment of program effectiveness, or if alternative information should be considered.
  
ARPA Travel, Tourism, & Outdoor Recreation https://www.eda.gov/funding/programs/american-rescue-plan/travel-tourism
Draft data collection instrument and technical documentation requested from EDA by AEAStat.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-06800

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