WASHINGTON — The U.S. travel industry is in peril and time is running out, the U.S. Travel Association stated clearly and without equivocation. “It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and prioritize the many businesses and employees in the hardest-hit industries,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. According to estimates, more than half (55%) of all small travel businesses in the U.S. are at risk of either taking longer than six months to recover, or never recovering at all.
“Workers and business owners in the travel sector are struggling to understand why leaders in Washington are not at the negotiating table round the clock, when evidence of acute pain in every corner of the country is so clear,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association’s President and CEO.
Further, the industry continues to experience historic levels of revenue decline, with losses totaling a staggering $2 billion per day, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The travel industry cannot wait until after the Supreme Court battle or until after the election, it added.
“Trade shows are one of the biggest challenges we have,” Dow said. “Anything we can do to get governors to understand we can control trade shows must be done. This is critical to not only attendees, but to our economy, as this is where business is done. We must put as much pressure as we can on Congress to make a decision before they leave.”
To that end, a coalition of public/private sector travel, hotel, franchise, and state and local government groups has been formed and is calling on Congress to act on a COVID-19 relief bill before the election that is either a stand-alone bill or includes concessions that are part of another bill.
According to the coalition, this relief bill must include:
- An extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); extreme urgency for a smaller package focusing on enhancements to the Paycheck Protection Program — especially a second draw on funds for eligible businesses.
- An expansion of PPP eligibility to include 501(c)(6) nonprofit and quasi-governmental destination marketing organizations; and
- A second round of loans to keep local businesses afloat and workers on the payroll.
The CEOs of 17 of the largest U.S. travel companies joined the U.S. Travel Association in the following statement pleading with leaders in Washington to advance a subsequent round of legislative relief from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“In the strongest possible terms, we urge Congress and the administration to reach agreement before the election on a relief package that will give travel employers — and the millions of livelihoods they support — a fighting chance to survive.
“We represent an industry that accounts for nearly 40% of all the U.S. jobs that have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic — an absolutely staggering figure. With travel spending in the U.S. projected to drop more than half a trillion dollars this year, travel employers — 83% of which are classified as small businesses, including large numbers of our own franchisees — are struggling to keep their doors open. It is unknown when the health crisis will allow the situation to improve on its own.
“Major portions of the travel industry have been unable to access any of the previous rounds of coronavirus-related aid passed by Washington — and for those that have had some relief, it has not been equal to the magnitude of the challenge.
“With each moment that passes without another relief package, more travel businesses are at greater risk of closing their doors forever, with those jobs unable to be restored.
“If there were ever a moment when American businesses and workers need leadership that transcends politics, it is now. We respectfully request that political leaders engage in a continuous dialogue for however long it takes to achieve action. Failure to do so will almost certainly delay a recovery for years.”
This statement was created by the following travel CEOs:
Geoff Ballotti, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc.
Ed Bastian, Chief Executive Officer, Delta Air Lines
Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association
Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer, JetBlue
Mark Hoplamazian, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Jerry Jacobs Jr., Co-Chief Executive Officer, Delaware North
George Kalogridis, President of Segment Development and Enrichment, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
Peter Kern, Vice Chairman and CEO, Expedia Group
Scott Kirby, Chief Executive Officer, United Airlines
David Kong, President and Chief Executive Officer, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Elie Maalouf, Chief Executive Officer, Americas, IHG
Sean Menke, President and CEO, Sabre Corporation
Heather McCrory, CEO North and Central America, Accor
Christopher Nassetta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hilton
Patrick Pacious, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International
Jim Risoleo, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Host Hotels & Resorts
Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International
Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels & Co
Congress has been deadlocked in negotiations for an expanded relieve since before the CARES Act expired at the end of July.
Lawmakers will provide new help for airlines either through a broad-based stimulus bill or “bipartisan standalone legislation,” California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday.