Travel and Tourism Groups Plead for Relief from US Congress

Today, a group of more than 300 major public and private sector travel and tourism groups signed a letter to Congress from the COVID Relief Coalition.

The President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Chip Rogers, who helped spearhead the coalition, said: “The election is over, and now it is time for Congress to do their job by prioritizing the many businesses and employees in the hardest-hit industries. Millions of jobs and the livelihoods of people who have built their small business for decades are just withering away, because Congress has offered no relief since March and will not survive until a vaccine is widely distributed. 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.”

The open letter to Congress from the COVID RELIEF NOW Coalition said this:

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% 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 US 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 re-openings. 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 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.

Those who signed the letter included:

  • American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) – Chip Rogers, President & CEO
  • International Franchise Association – Robert Cresanti, President & CEO
  • National Association of Counties (NAC) – Matthew D. Chase, CEO/Executive Director
  • National Conference for State Legislatures (NCSL)
  • National Governors Association (NGA) – 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
  • US Conference of Mayors – Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director
  • US Travel Association – Roger Dow, President & CEO
  • Society of Independent Show Organizers – David Audrain, Executive Director
  • International Council of Shopping Centers – Tom McGee, President & CEO
  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) – Cecil Staton, President & CEO
  • American Gaming Association – Bill Miller, President & CEO
  • American Apparel & Footwear Association – Stephen Lamar, President & CEO
  • Small Business Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council – Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO
  • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) – Susan Robertson, President & CEO
  • Go LIVE Together Coalition – Sue Sung, Director