Proposed Covid-Relief Act Would Bring Aid to Travel Businesses

The bipartisan bill, which could go to a vote next week, includes measures supported by the U.S. Travel Association.

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The proposed Bipartisan Emergency Covid Relief Act of 2020, which could go to a vote next week, includes many key provisions championed by the U.S. Travel Association to support travel, meetings and tourism businesses. Negotiations continue, however, with a looming deadline to approve the federal budget, now delayed from Dec. 11 to Dec. 18.

Relief can’t come soon enough for this beleaguered industry. Total travel spending in the U.S. is projected to finish the year down 45 percent from 2019. The travel industry, which previously supported employment for one out of every 10 Americans, now accounts for more than one-third of the country’s unemployment.

Congressional lawmakers supporting the bipartisan bill released a six-page summary today, which was obtained by CNN. Among included provisions that will support travel:

  • $300 billion for small businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), 7(a) loan program and Economic Insurance Disaster Loans;
  • PPP loans, with loan forgiveness, for small businesses with fewer than 300 employees and a 30 percent revenue loss in any quarter of 2020;
  • Expanded eligibility for destination marketing organizations with fewer than 150 full-time and part-time employees to receive a first PPP loan;
  • $160 billion in funding for state, local and tribal governments, similar to the Coronavirus Relief Fund under the CARES Act;
  • Transportation funding for Amtrak, airports, bus companies and an extension of the payroll-support program for frontline aviation workers; and
  • $2.5 billion for vaccine distribution by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and $10 billion for testing and contact tracing.

Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy, U.S. Travel Association

"In particular, the second draw on PPP funds and the expansion of eligibility to nonprofit organizations that promote travel and tourism will be especially beneficial to America’s hardest-hit industry,” noted Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel’s executive vice president for public affairs and policy. “This relief proposal package is wisely responsive to specific needs outlined by industries that are struggling to keep their doors open and retain employees. It’s been a long and hard road to see a deal, and while more will ultimately be necessary, this framework can position the U.S. economy for a stronger recovery if it survives the next stages.”