The travel and tourism industry is trending to be one of the hardest hit industries as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The industry will be seeing the effects of this pandemic for months, if not years, to come. Today, a group of leaders from 11 travel and tourism associations representing various parts of the industry convened in person and by phone in Washington, DC to discuss the key issues facing the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure that small businesses are not overlooked as government relief is addressed. The Department of Commerce was also a part of the discussion.
The industry leaders stressed the vital and urgent need of the Federal Government to take action that is swift, clear in its direction, and provides grants, favorable loans, and other relief mechanisms to address the market failure small businesses face within the travel and tourism industry.
According to a recent U.S. Travel analysis, COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions will result in an $809 billion hit on the United States economy and a loss of 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year, nearly doubling the unemployment rate in the US. Additionally, total spending on travel in the United States, which includes transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants, is expected to fall by $355 billion. What is most troubling is that this projected $355 billion is a 31 percent decrease from last year and is six times greater than the impact of 9/11.
The group of industry leaders included:
American Bus Association (ABA), Peter Pantuso, President and Chief Executive Officer,
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Shannon Stowell, CEO, and Chun Wright, Legal Counsel
American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Zane Kerby, President and Chief Executive Officer and Evan Beck, Executive Vice President
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Brian Beall, Vice President, Government Affairs
International Association of Tour Directors & Guides (IATDG), Von Harden, Chief Executive Officer, and Karen Yates, Community Director
International Inbound Travel Association (IITA), Lisa Simon, Executive Director and Steve Richard, Consultant
International Motorcoach Group (IMG), Bronwyn Wilson, President
National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations USA (NFTGA), Ellen Malasky, President
National Tour Association (NTA), Catherine Prather, CTP, President
Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), Carylann Assante, Chief Executive Officer, and Erik Hansen, Vice President of Government Relations
United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Terry Dale, President and Chief Executive Officer
The industry leaders discussed ways to achieve congressional economic relief, the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and the overall impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry. They also discussed how the industry can work together in the coming months to help overcome the lasting effects of this pandemic.
Specific actions agreed by the group include:
Continue to collaborate on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic relief.
Engage lawmakers on Capitol Hill and Executive Branch Officials as relief negotiations continue to ensure our industry remains a part of the conversation.
Advocate for any and all relief measures to help keep businesses’ doors open.
Rely on one another and the spirit of the resilient travel and tourism sector navigate this unprecedented time.
Said Terry Dale from USTOA: “Unprecedented times call for urgent action and our industry as a whole needs to be proactive to ensure the business health of each of our members, so many of whom are small businesses, and their employees stays front and center as government relief programs are developed and announced. The combined voices from each of these industry partners and their collective memberships will make a powerful impact to urge government officials to act fast. We are separate, yet united.”
Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business. As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents. For more information visit www.ustoa.com.