Open Letter Urges Congress to Pass and Enact a Covid-Relief Package This Year

Many more travel and tourism businesses will close permanently without immediate aid, says Roger Dow of U.S. Travel.

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As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other entities issues dire warnings against travel, the fast-growing Covid Relief Now Coalition published an open letter today urging legislators to come to an agreement that will provide swift relief to save travel and tourism businesses.

“Bottom line: The travel and tourism sector is projected to lose 4.5 million jobs by the end of the year, and the longer Washington waits to act on another relief round, more of those will be gone permanently,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow, whose organization co-founded the Covid Relief Now Coalition on Oct. 2. “There is demonstrated support in the current Congress to advance a package immediately,” added Dow, “and there is obvious support from the voting public to get to a deal. It should not be a big political Rubik’s cube for the two parties to come together and get this done now.”

Covid Relief Now, established on Oct. 2, now has more than 300 members representing public- and private-sector businesses. Steering committee members include the American Hotel & Lodging Association, National League of Cities, National Restaurant Association, U.S. Travel Association, Society of Independent Show Organizers, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, American Gaming Association, Small Business Entrepreneurship Council, American Society of Association Executives and Go Live Together, among others.

“The livelihoods of people who have built their small business for decades are just withering away because Congress has offered no relief since March,” noted Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, a coalition member. “America’s hotel industry is on the brink of collapse. We can’t afford to let thousands of small businesses die and all of the jobs associated with them be lost for many years.”   

Almost 9 in 10 U.S. voters support more federal coronavirus-related relief, according to U.S. Travel's survey results, which were released Tuesday. Conducted by the research firm Heart + Mind Strategies LLC, was based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people who voted in the Nov. 3 election. Results demonstrated strong majority support for another relief bill among every voter group, demographic subgroup and geographic region.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Leaders:

With Election Day well behind us and most races settled, we renew our urgent request for action to help stave off further job loss on Main Street, especially as spiking coronavirus cases put economies across the country at further risk. A COVID RELIEF NOW Coalition survey of over 1,800 cities, counties and industry associations finds 80 percent of respondents indicating their financial health has been impacted negatively by COVID-19.

The time to advance the next round of COVID-related economic relief is now, during the 2020 lame-duck legislative session. Our country can’t wait until 2021. Ninety-one percent of respondents believe that without another stimulus, their business, organization or government’s condition will worsen.

New jobless claims again exceeded 700,000. There are signs that a once-nascent jobs recovery has markedly cooled — especially at the lower rungs of the income ladder. Thirty-five percent of respondents to our survey say their business, organization or government has slashed its workforce due to the current economic situation. However, the worst may be yet to come: 95% of survey respondents believe their organization or industry will face growing challenges — or be forced to shutter altogether.

Revenue shortfalls are imperiling the delivery of many public services for both city and county governments. In fact, most local governments believe they will face significant challenges in providing needed services.

Though certain segments of the economy have managed to adapt and thrive during the pandemic, others are at the mercy of coronavirus-related shutdowns and have borne the worst of the economic fallout. Travel, for instance — which encompasses segments like lodging and transportation, but also has enormous downstream impact for industries such as restaurants, retail and business events — currently accounts for more than a third of all U.S. unemployment. Travel-supported jobs employed one in 10 Americans prior to COVID-19, but 4.5 million of those jobs are projected to be lost by year’s end.

Spiking infection rates and new rounds of restrictions have profoundly diminished the outlook for an immediate economic recovery. Earlier rounds of legislative relief never anticipated the extended length of closures and protracted reopenings. Huge numbers of the most-impacted employers have already exhausted aid funds with a recovery yet to materialize — or were left unable to access the relief programs to begin with.

Although encouraging news on a vaccine offers a ray of light at the end of a long and very dark tunnel, under the best possible scenario it will not be widely available in time to prevent the permanent loss of more businesses and the communities they sustain.

A huge and diverse coalition of business and public-sector voices has been pleading with Washington for months to reach a new relief deal. Each passing moment guarantees more job losses and a hamstrung recovery.
We urge you to finalize, pass and enact a COVID relief package into law this year. The time for federal relief and leadership is now.

Asian American Hotel Owners Association
Cecil Staton, President & CEO

American Apparel & Footwear Association
Stephen Lamar, President & CEO

American Gaming Association
Bill Miller, President & CEO

American Hotel & Lodging Association
Chip Rogers, President & CEO

American Society of Association Executives
Susan Robertson, President & CEO

Go Live Together
Sue Sung, Director

International Council of Shopping Centers
Tom McGee, President & CEO

International Franchise Association 
Robert Cresanti, President & CEO

National Association of Counties
Matthew D. Chase, CEO/Executive Director

National Governors Association
Bill McBride, Executive Director

National League of Cities
Clarence E. Anthony, CEO & Executive Director

National Restaurant Association
Tom Bené, President & CEO

National Retail Federation
Matthew R. Shay, President & CEO

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO

Society of Independent Show Organizers
David Audrain, Executive Director

The United States Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director

U.S. Travel Association
Roger Dow, President & CEO