Travel industry calls for targeted relief amid coronavirus pandemic

Travel industry calls for targeted relief amid coronavirus pandemic

The travel industry, represented by the U.S. Travel Association, on Friday called for further relief in the next coronavirus stimulus package after having been devastated by the pandemic.

The association noted in a letter to congressional leadership and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMenendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election MORE that the travel industry has lost 51 percent of its workforce so far, which accounts for 38 percent of the total U.S. jobs lost as a result of the pandemic.

“The industry is now on track to shrink by $1.2 trillion by the end of the year. It is clear there can be no economic recovery without a recovery in the travel industry,” Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel executive vice president of public affairs and policy, wrote.

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The association called for $10 billion in federal grants to promote safe and healthy travel practices and proposed that Congress should set aside $5 billion in any aid to state and local governments for areas impacted by a decline in travel.

The association also suggested that Congress should provide an additional $5 billion in grants for tourism marketing over the next two years.

The letter called for $13 billion in emergency assistance for U.S. airports, which are facing at least $23 billion in operating losses.

The association also asked for changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include destination marketing organizations, which have not been eligible to apply for these loans, and liability protection for businesses.

In a boon for the industry, Republicans have indicated that liability protections will be included in the next coronavirus relief package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to roll out the latest relief proposal next week. 

Additionally, the group calls for a temporary travel tax credit for individuals worth 50 percent of qualified travel expenses occurring in the U.S. through 2022; restoration of the food and entertainment business expense deduction; enhancements to the employee retention tax credit and more tax credits for events; cleaning and personal protective equipment; and a national strategy to expand COVID-19 testing.

The $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March gave $377 billion in loans and loan forgiveness to small travel businesses. The tourism industry had called for $150 billion in assistance in that package.