Coronavirus and Meetings
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Total travel spending is forecast to drop by 45 percent this year, according to a new study prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics. Domestic spending alone is expected to drop 40 percent, from $972 billion last year to a predicted $583 billion in 2020; while international inbound spending is in a complete free fall, likely to drop by 75 percent from $155 billion in 2019 to just $39 billion this year.
The number of domestic trips taken by U.S. residents in 2020 is forecast to drop by 30 percent, to 1.6 billion, which would be the lowest number in nearly three decades.
"The data is telling us that travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis," said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel's executive vice president for public affairs and policy. "Given that travel employed 1 in 10 Americans and was the no. 2 U.S. export before the pandemic, supporting this industry through to the recovery phase ought to be a national priority."
U.S. Travel is taking that message to lawmakers in what the organization is calling "Virtual Hill Week": Nearly 300 travel-industry professionals will take part in 75 online meetings with members of both the House and Senate.
"Our asks for lawmakers are substantial," Barnes added, "but they're also simple: We need relief, protection and stimulus for the travel industry to make it past the worst of the crisis and help power an economic recovery."
Current policy priorities identified by U.S. Travel are:
- Extending the Paycheck Protection Program to cover convention and visitor bureaus. CVBs remain ineligible for aid because they carry a nonprofit or quasi-government designation, but they are in fact major driving engines of economic development, U.S. Travel points out.
- Offering tax incentives for a strong and safe travel-economy restart. The organization is calling for a temporary travel tax credit, a restoration of the business-entertainment deduction, support for the meetings sector, and tax credits for personal protective equipment and facilities sterilization.
- Seeking protection from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits faced by any businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines.
- Providing a federal backstop for the issuance of pandemic risk insurance. This would cover businesses for future outbreaks or another wave of infections, and would be similar to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act enacted after 9/11.
The organization's complete list of legislative priorities can be found here.