U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow says the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the travel industry $355 billion in losses and more than 4.6 million lost jobs, according to research prepared for U.S. Travel by Tourism Economics. The group argues urgent action by the federal government is needed to offset their losses.
“What we’re looking at is 4.6 million unemployed the way things are unraveling right now,” Dow said. “That will take the unemployment rate – from just that alone – from 3.5 percent to 6.3 percent.”
Dow, along with lobbying groups representing the country’s travel and tourism industry, recently met with President Donald Trump and other officials to discuss the devastating impact of the pandemic.
The group urged the administration to take measures to help the ailing industry, including a $150 billion taxpayer bailout.
More than 6,000 travel industry and related organizations sent a joint letter to congressional leadership requesting aggressive and immediate financial relief in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The signees—which include organizations in transportation, lodging, recreation and entertainment, food and beverage, meetings, conferences and business events, travel advising and destination marketing—represent businesses that support 15.8 million American jobs.
U.S. Travel and the 6,000 signees asked Congress to include in its relief package:
- $150 billion in travel employment grants: Through the U.S. Department of Treasury, provide $150 billion in grants to travel-dependent businesses to maintain employment at pre-coronavirus levels.
- Provide greater financial assistance to severely impacted businesses by increasing the aggregate loan amount for severely distressed industries above $150 billion and providing the assistance through unsecured loans and loan guarantees.
- Provide at least $10 billion in airport grants to pay debt service, maintain operations, and provide critical services, along with ensuring additional support for airport businesses and essential aviation service providers. The entire aviation ecosystem that powers commercial air travel must be supported.
“Time is of the essence,” Dow said. “Through no fault of their own, millions of American workers will lose their jobs in the coming weeks. Congress must act now to ensure these businesses and workers can sustain themselves through this crisis, and are able to help power America’s economic recovery when the worst is behind us.”