ASTA, U.S. Travel Association Urge Congress to Pass COVID Relief

Last week, the Senate adjourned until September 7 without passing a new round of COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief. Many in the travel community are calling on Senators to return to Washington, D.C. and assist American citizens and hurting industries.

In a video posted August 14, American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) president and CEO Zane Kerby said, “it’s imperative that lawmakers be rerouted on a one-way ticket back to Washington, D.C., and they need to stay here until a deal is made. It is unacceptable for Congress to pack up and go home at a time when millions of Americans and businesses are on the brink of collapse.

ASTA added that nearly 80 percent of its members applied for and received relief from the CARES Act and other relief programs earlier this year. But even with that assistance, a vast majority of U.S. travel agencies will still go out of business in less than a year if they don’t get more support. Of the of travel advisors who will be out of business if Congress doesn’t provide relief, ASTA says 25 percent expect to be out of business in three months and almost 16 percent will be out of business in six weeks or less.

He continued: “While we’re waiting for the federal government to get the virus under control and to set the standards for safe travel, the least Congress could do is prop up our small businesses in the meantime.”

See the full statement here:

Tip: On ASTA’s Advocacy portal, advisors can send a message directly to their Congressional representatives.

Additionally, U.S. Travel Association EVP of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on reports that both chambers of Congress may soon consider separate actions on coronavirus relief legislation: 

“It is crucial that leaders in Washington return to the negotiating table immediately and continue the important work they started. Since March, more than half of the 15.8 million pre-pandemic jobs supported by the travel industry have disappeared, leaving workers and small businesses in every pocket of America vulnerable to the economic pain of this public health crisis. 

“Underscoring the devastating effect this crisis has had on the industry’s jobs base is the fact that 34 percent of all job losses have been in the leisure and hospitality sector, though that sector accounted for just 11 percent of pre-pandemic jobs.

“Clearly, there can be no nationwide economic revival without a recovery of the travel industry. Despite the robust relief measures enacted over the past several months, huge numbers of travel businesses are still unable to access any of the assistance programs. The Paycheck Protection Program needs to be immediately extended and expanded to include destination marketing organizations, without which an economic recovery will be constricted before it even begins. 

“Travel industry businesses and workers cannot wait until September or until after the election. Congress must come together immediately to pass meaningful legislation to provide relief, protection and stimulus to all segments of the travel industry.”

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