More than 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives—from both sides of the political aisle—have signed onto a letter urging Congressional leadership to provide relief for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) whose funding has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis. The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Doris Matsui, Gus M. Bilirakis, Dina Titus and Joe Wilson.
Despite their pivotal contributions to local and regional travel economies, as noted by the U.S. Travel Association and reported by our sister publication Travel Agent, many DMOs were unintentionally left ineligible for coronavirus relief funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) because of their non-profit or quasi-governmental status. Opening the program to 501(c)(6) non-profits, which includes DMOs, in “Round 4” of aid is among the American Society of Travel Advisors’ top priorities.
"The travel economy has been devastated by the coronavirus, with more than one-third of the job losses occurring in the travel and hospitality sector," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "But travel simply will not be adequately prepared to help lead the recovery without the work of destination marketers, which are critical engines of economic development in their states, cities and regions.”
Research from the U.S. Travel Association offers evidence that tourism promotion is vital to the creation of jobs, better wages and a higher quality of life in jurisdictions that invest in it. Additional separate research by the United States Tour Operators Association and MMGY Travel Intelligence show destination management organizations expect to resume marketing in the coming months.
“As you work to draft additional legislation to strengthen America’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, we urge you to support the travel and tourism industry by including destination marketing organizations (DMOs) as eligible entities for federal support,” the letter reads. “The coronavirus has affected all sectors of the U.S. economy, but it has had a disproportionate impact on restaurants, hotels, and the hospitality industry. The actions we take now will have a significant impact on the speed and sustainability of our economic recovery.”
The letter goes on to emphasize that destination marketing is particularly crucial in smaller cities and regions: "While DMOs have been successful in bringing tourists to gateway cities like Los Angeles and New York, they also drive tourists to visit smaller or mid-size markets, generating billions of dollars in economic activity for these communities.”
In addition to including DMOs’ status as 501(c)(6), 501(c)(4), or quasi-governmental organizations as eligible entities for federal support in programs like PPP, the House members also note that “targeted support for DMOs can be a powerful tool in generating the domestic spending we need to kick-start the economy.”
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.