On the heels of the U.S. Travel Association petitioning Congress for increased support as the COVID-19 downturn continues, the American Hotel & Lodging Association also sent a letter to Congress calling for additional help.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality sector has lost 4.8 million jobs since February—more jobs than construction, manufacturing, retail, education and health services combined. The human toll on hotel employees and the hotel workforce is devastating, with hotels still staffed at less than half their prepandemic levels. The economic impact is the worst the industry has ever faced.
“Our industry was among the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. We are a major economic driver, supporting millions of jobs and generating billions in tax revenue. Getting our economy back on track starts with supporting the hotel industry and tourism in general,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the AHLA. “We need Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis, so that help is directed to the businesses that need it most.”
How Congress can Help
AHLA is urging Congress to provide immediate assistance in these areas:
- Provide additional liquidity for severely impacted businesses through a targeted extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Create hotel industry relief opportunities utilizing Federal Reserve and Treasury authority.
- Establish a commercial mortgage-backed securities market relief fund, with a specific focus on the hotel industry, as part of the Federal Reserve’s lending options.
- Make structural changes to the Main Street Lending Facility established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to ensure hotel companies can access the program.
- Include limited liability language to provide a limited safe harbor from exposure liability for hotels that reopen and follow proper public health guidance.
- Include targeted tax provisions that will benefit severely injured businesses and their employees, including tax credits for capital expenditures or expenses to meet the industry’s Safe Stay initiative; an enhanced Employee Retention Credit; a temporary travel tax credit; exempting taxation on phantom income from loan modification forgiveness or cancellation; and allowing full deductibility of the food and entertainment business expense.
Together, these provisions aim to ensure hotels can retain and rehire employees, protect employees and guests, keep hotel doors open, and incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe.
A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult commissioned by the AHLA found that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts by Congress to help the travel industry recover:
- 70 percent of Americans support passing additional economic stimulus for the industries most negatively impacted by the pandemic, including the travel and hospitality sectors.
- By almost a 3-to-1 ratio, Americans support a new, temporary federal travel tax credit to encourage people to travel (61 percent support, 21 percent oppose).
- By more than a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans support restoring the business entertainment expense deduction to encourage business travel (57 percent support, 21 percent oppose).
- Almost two-thirds of Americans support efforts by the federal government to require banks to offer debt relief or forbearance on commercial hotel mortgages (63 percent support, 16 percent oppose).
“With a presence in every congressional district in America, hotels are central to getting our economy back on track and supporting millions of jobs. Americans overwhelmingly support efforts by Congress to provide the hotel industry with additional support so that we can keep our doors open and bring back our employees,” concluded Rogers.
As noted yesterday, the AHLA has already voiced support for the Small Business Comeback Act, which would complement business assistance provided under the CARES Act, and provide streamlined and tailored federal support for small businesses most affected by COVID-19.