Coronavirus and Meetings
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Decreased travel demand has resulted in $360 billion in losses to the U.S. economy since March, according to a new report from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics. This figure translates to roughly $2 billion per day.
In an effort to restore lost jobs and spur economic recovery, the U.S. Travel Association is calling for the Senate to quickly pass its newly introduced Covid-19 relief bill. The bill would enhance and expand the Paycheck Protection Program to provide aid for convention and visitors bureaus, which were not previously eligible for PPP funding and have seen budget cuts as high as 50 to 100 percent, according to research from Destinations International and Northstar Meetings Group.
"It’s clear that travel jobs — which were by far the hardest-hit of any sector — won’t recover on their own," said U.S. Travel Association executive vice president for public affairs and policy Tori Barnes. "The 'skinny' relief bill moving through the Senate has good components, and we’re urging Congress to recognize that substantial and immediate aid for travel employers is really vital for the entire U.S. job market."
The U.S. Travel Association also launched the "Let's Go There" campaign earlier this week. The campaign, which is a collaboration among more than 75 travel-related businesses, aims to inspire Americans to plan business or leisure trips now or in the near future.
Travel has been among the industries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with an economic impact that is expected to be nine times worse than that of 9/11. Recent research from the American Hotel and Lodging Association shows nearly 40 percent of hotel workers remain unemployed. According to the U.S. Travel Association, federal relief is key to keeping the industry afloat.
The legislative relief requests from U.S. Travel include:
- Extending the Paycheck Protection Program until the end of the year, expanding eligibility to include CVBs, increasing the loan amount and allowing for a second loan.
- Providing up to $10 million in federal grants to promote safe and healthy travel practices to help restart the industry.
- Issuing temporary liability protections for travel businesses to reopen.
- Creating temporary tax credits, including one to encourage Americans to travel, a tax credit to restore activity in the meetings sector, and one to help businesses offset the cost of mitigating the spread of Covid-19.
"Our asks of Congress are big because the problem is massive, and is only growing right before our eyes," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in July. "Travel businesses could not possibly have prepared for this level of catastrophe, and there's no telling how many of the 8 million jobs we've lost so far will remain gone for good without aggressive federal intervention to keep the industry on life support."