Coronavirus and Meetings
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I was pleased to join other travel industry leaders for a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the economic impact of this crisis on our industry, and how we can move forward together for the benefit of the entire U.S. economy.
The meeting was highly productive, and I’m grateful to Vice President Pence and the administration for hearing the concerns of our industry.
The vice president understands there is no time to waste. The U.S. Travel Association recently released a staggering new report that travel-related unemployment has reached 51 percent, which is more than twice the 25 percent rate the country as a whole experienced at the height of the Great Depression. Earlier, U.S. Travel research found that travel spending losses are on track to top half a trillion dollars by the end of 2020 -- an impact nine times greater than the economic fallout caused by the September 11 attacks.
Among several other legislative priorities -- which were sent in a document to Capitol Hill and the White House last week -- I told the vice president that an "Explore America" domestic travel tax credit is a great idea to get the industry’s economic engine running again. In fact, President Donald Trump himself embraced our plan in a meeting with restaurant industry leaders.
Reopening the travel industry will be a region-by-region, phased process. Data shows that Americans will first feel more comfortable traveling to destinations close to home by car. That is where we expect travel will begin its return. A domestic travel tax credit, along with the travel industry’s health and safety guidance for reopening, could provide the jolt needed to restart travel and effectively put millions of Americans back to work.
Few other countries can compete with what the U.S. offers travelers: incomparable natural beauty, big cities, small-town charm, unrivaled culinary excellence, thrilling sports and outdoor activities, and unique arts and culture. When the time is right, all the things that we have been missing these many weeks in lockdown will be waiting for us.
I am deeply grateful to the administration for hearing the concerns of the travel sector, and to all of our partners across the industry who work so tirelessly to advocate on behalf of their employees. The road is long, but together we can put travel back on the path to prosperity.
Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America -- an industry that generates $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.