AHLA, USTA react to proposed COVID-19 support expansion

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) form
Among the provisions in the Senate package are additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and limited liability protection for businesses as they reopen. Photo credit: Kameleon007/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to devastate businesses nationwide, Senate Republicans have announced another round of proposed funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, but did not specify how much money would be allocated for loans.

Two industry organizations issued statements on Monday evening celebrating the possible funding. The American Hotel & Lodging Association noted several hotel industry priorities were in the relief package and urged Congress to move quickly to pass the legislation. 

Among the provisions in the proposed package are additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and limited liability protection for businesses as they reopen, both of which can support the hotel industry and its employees.
 
“Hotels and hotel employees have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the AHLA. “We urgently need help just so hotels can remain solvent in order to retain and rehire our employees. We applaud lawmakers who have recognized this fact while crafting this critical legislation. We urge Congress to move swiftly to pass additional support directed at the industries and employees who have been most negatively impacted by this crisis.”
 
The AHLA has maintained a list of priorities for industry recovery:

  • Provide additional liquidity for severely impacted businesses through a targeted extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • 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; enhanced Employee Retention Credit; a temporary travel tax credit; exempting taxation on phantom income from loan modification forgiveness or cancelation; and allowing full deductibility of the food and entertainment business expense.

COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout have been devastating for the hotel industry and its employees. 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. Hotels still are staffed at less than half their prepandemic levels. The economic impact is the worst the industry has ever faced.
 
With a presence in every congressional district in America, hotels supported more than 1 in 25 jobs and contributed $660 billion to U.S. gross domestic product before the COVID-19 crisis.

U.S. Travel Association Responds

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow similarly issued the following statement on Senate introduction of the next phase of coronavirus relief, noting it extends Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to nonprofit or quasi-governmental tourism marketing organizations:

"The Senate bill wisely expands coronavirus relief to destination marketing organizations, which are economic development agencies that perform vital work to drive visitors to local and regional businesses, large and small. This is a welcome update to previous aid packages, and will increase the chances of a robust recovery that touches every corner of the country," he said. "DMO budgets have been severely depleted by the disappearance of tourism revenues just like the businesses they serve, and without their work an economic rebound will not be nearly as strong. Senate leaders are to be credited for this foresighted measure that extends Paycheck Protection Program relief to DMOs, which lays a much more comprehensive policy groundwork for travel businesses to be able to restore jobs and fuel a national economic recovery."