HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Two Texas lawmakers have called upon Congress to help rebuild Mexican tourism in the United States.

U.S. House Reps. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Republican, introduced on Thursday a bill they called a “bipartisan United States-Mexico Tourism Improvement Act,” meant to increase cooperation between the two nations toward restoring tourism after disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the bill is intended to:

  • strengthen bilateral tourism between the United States and Mexico;
  • improve third-party tourism to both countries through joint promotional efforts;
  • And prioritize and expand the hospitality, retail, and cultural education sectors in both countries.

“The United States is the primary destination for Mexican travelers,” Cuellar said. “Tourism between our two countries is a critical economic driver for our state’s economy, especially in South Texas.”

In 2021, 10.4 million Mexicans traveled to the United States and spent approximately $11.7 billion, Cuellar’s office stated. Despite comprising 47 percent of total foreign travelers to the United States, Mexican tourism rates were 42 percent below 2019 numbers.

McCaul agreed that tourism was a vital industry, both here and in Mexico.

“It is essential that we work closely with our southern neighbor to promote this industry in a way that is mutually beneficial,” McCaul said.