Travel Industry Leaders Discuss Issues, COVID-19 Relief in DC

Washington DC National Capitol Building
Photo by Getty/lucky-photographer

A group of leaders from 11 travel and tourism associations representing various parts of the industry convened in person and by phone Thursday in Washington, DC to discuss the key issues facing the industry as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, and to ensure that small businesses are not overlooked as government relief is addressed. The Department of Commerce was also a part of the discussion.

The industry leaders stressed the vital and urgent need of the Federal Government to take action that is swift, clear in its direction, and provides grants, favorable loans, and other relief mechanisms to address the market failure small businesses face within the travel and tourism industry.

According to a recent U.S. Travel analysis, COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions will result in an $809 billion hit on the United States economy and a loss of 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year, nearly doubling the unemployment rate in the U.S. Additionally, total spending on travel in the United States, which includes transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants, is expected to fall by $355 billion. What is most troubling is that this projected $355 billion is a 31 percent decrease from last year and is six times greater than the impact of 9/11.

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The group of industry leaders included: 

  • American Bus Association (ABA), Peter Pantuso, president and chief executive officer
  • Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Shannon Stowell, CEO, and Chun Wright, legal counsel
  • American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Zane Kerby, president and chief executive officer and Eben Peck, executive vice president of advocacy
  • Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Brian Beall, vice president, government affairs
  • International Association of Tour Directors & Guides (IATDG), Von Harden, chief executive officer, and Karen Yates, community director
  • International Inbound Travel Association (IITA), Lisa Simon, executive director and Steve Richard, consultant
  • International Motorcoach Group (IMG), Bronwyn Wilson, president
  • National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations USA (NFTGA), Ellen Malasky, president
  • National Tour Association (NTA), Catherine Prather, CTP, president 
  • Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), Carylann Assante, chief executive officer, and Erik Hansen, vice president of government relations
  • United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Terry Dale, president and chief executive officer

The industry leaders discussed ways to achieve congressional economic relief, the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and the overall impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry. They also discussed how the industry can work together in the coming months to help overcome the lasting effects of this pandemic. 

Specific actions agreed by the group include:

  • Continue to collaborate on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic relief.
  • Engage lawmakers on Capitol Hill and Executive Branch Officials as relief negotiations continue to ensure our industry remains a part of the conversation.
  • Advocate for any and all relief measures to help keep businesses’ doors open.
  • Rely on one another and the spirit of the resilient travel and tourism sector navigate this unprecedented time.

This article originally appeared on

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