U.S. Travel Association is pushing for aggressive policy action for the travel industry to help employers keep their doors open.
“Travel is a central pillar of the U.S. economy, so an overall recovery will only be possible if Washington moves quickly to keep the industry on its feet,” Roger Dow, president, and CEO of U.S. Travel, said on Thursday.
COVID-19 has devastated the travel industry more than any other sector of the economy; 40% of all jobs lost nationwide are attributable to declines in leisure and hospitality employment, according to U.S. Travel.
Continued relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and tax incentives to help travel-dependent businesses and spur individual travel demand are among the provisions the industry is requesting from Congress.
Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for U.S. Travel, said the PPP needs to be extended beyond the March 31 deadline as travel businesses continue to suffer.
The association is also pushing for the allowance of businesses to request a 3rd draw if they exhaust their second draw and COVID-19 restrictions persist.
Other relief measures include expanding eligibility in the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program to include attractions, tour operators, and meeting and event organizers; and enacting other targeted grant programs, including for hotels and destination marketing organizations.
U.S. Travel is also calling for tax incentives focused on restoring travel jobs, like those contained in the Hospitality and Commerce Jobs Recovery Act, including a refundable tax credit for individuals and families that travel this year, worth 50% of qualified travel expenses, up to a maximum of $1,500 per household plus $500 for each qualifying child.
Headed into the spring break travel season, the U.S. Travel Association on Thursday released new updates to its “Travel in the New Normal” health and safety guidance, first released in May and last updated in November before the holiday travel surge.
The latest updates to the guidance mainly reflect the growing availability of COVID vaccines and include strong encouragement from the travel industry for every American to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.
“Without safety, travel will be very difficult,” Dow said, also underscoring that masks continue to be very important. “It’s a two-way street,” emphasizing the shared responsibility between travelers and the industry.
“Travel can’t recover travel until the pandemic under control.”