More than half of the 15.8 million travel-related jobs in the U.S. have disappeared since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—driving an unemployment number (51 percent) that is more than twice the 25 percent rate the country as a whole experienced at the worst of the Great Depression, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association.
The April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the hospitality and leisure industry was the hardest hit, losing 7.7 million jobs—nearly as many jobs as the next four sectors combined.
To combat the effects of these job losses and the unprecedented downturn caused by the pandemic, the American Hotel & Lodging Association today released a “Roadmap to Recovery” that calls on Congress to prioritize relief for hotel workers and small businesses in the next stimulus package.
AHLA is urging Congress to provide immediate assistance in four areas:
- Help hotels retain and rehire employees by extending the Paycheck Protection Program, offering employees direct tuition assistance or tax credits, and expanding the Employee Retention Credit
- Protect employees and guests through tax credits for cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment
- Keep hotel doors open by providing relief for hotel commercial mortgages and increasing the size and flexibility of PPP loans
Incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe with a new, temporary travel tax credit and restoring the entertainment business expense deduction
“The hospitality industry is in a fight for survival,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO of AHLA. “We are grateful to the leadership of both parties during one of the most difficult health and economic challenges we have faced. We are urging Congress to do even more to help the hotel industry so that our small business hotel operators can keep the lights on and retain and rehire employees.”
According to the group, 2020 is projected to be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy, and experts estimate it will be at least 2022 before hotels return to their 2019 occupancy and revenue levels. In a recent survey of AHLA members, more than 8 in 10 hotel employees said they have had to lay off or furlough workers. Only 37 percent have been able to rehire any staff through economic relief measures such as PPP.
Before the pandemic, hotels supported one in 25 American jobs—8.3 million in total—and contributed $660 billion to U.S. gross domestic product. A representative hotel with 100 occupied rooms per night supports nearly 250 jobs in the community and generates $18.4 million in guest spending at neighborhood shops and restaurants, according to the AHLA. Hotels also generate $186 billion in local, state, and federal taxes each year.
“While the hotel industry was one of the first affected by the pandemic, we have collectively stepped up to serve our communities during this public health crisis,” Rogers said. “We need Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis, so we can retain and rehire the people who power our industry, our communities and our economy.”