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The American Hotels & Lodging Association, claiming the hotel industry is on the “brink of collapse,” on Wednesday called on the U.S. Congress to prioritize relief for hotel workers and small businesses in the next Covid-19 economic relief package.
“The hospitality industry is in a fight for survival,” said AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers. “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 hotel operators can keep the lights on and retain and rehire employees.”
AHLA sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) calling for action on several areas as part of a “roadmap to recovery,” including:
• Extending the Paycheck Protection Program, offering employees direct tuition assistance or tax credits, and expanding the Employee Retention Credit.
Offering employees and hotel guests tax credits for cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment.
• Offering any hotel that reopens and follows proper public health guidance to protect employees and guests a limited safe harbor from exposure liability related to Covid-19.
• Providing relief for hotel commercial mortgages and increasing the size and flexibility of the PPP loans.
• Incentivizing Americans to travel again when safe with a new, temporary travel tax credit, by setting federal per diem rates for fiscal year 2021-22 using 2019 data, and by restoring the entertainment business expense deduction.
This year is projected to be the worst on record for hotel occupancy, according to AHLA, and some experts estimate hotels won’t return to their 2019 occupancy and revenue levels before at least 2022.
So far, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry is estimated to be nine times greater than that of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to Oxford Economics, adding that the industry is expected to lose nearly 50%t of its total revenue in 2020, for a possible total in excess of $120 billion.
In a recent survey of AHLA members, 84% of respondents said they have had to lay off or furlough workers.