Travel Industry Association Leaders Meet to Discuss Covid-19

As the ramifications from the coronavirus outbreak mount, travel industry association leaders came together for an unprecedented meeting.

Representatives from 11 associations in various areas of the travel industry gathered in person and by phone to discuss the key issues facing the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure that small businesses are not overlooked as government relief is addressed.

The leaders agreed that there is an urgent need for action by the federal government 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.

The U.S. Travel Association’s recent forecast showed that the travel and tourism industry will likely take an $809 billion hit and face job losses totaling more than 4.6 million, which alone would double the rate of unemployment in the U.S.

“Unprecedented times call for urgent action and our industry as a whole needs to be proactive to ensure the business health of each of our members, so many of whom are small businesses, and their employees stays front and center as government relief programs are developed and announced,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “The combined voices from each of these industry partners and their collective memberships will make a powerful impact to urge government officials to act fast. We are separate, yet united.”

Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association said: “Motorcoach operators, tour operators, destinations and other tourism-related organizations (including local and regional government partners), along with product and service suppliers, all support the travel industry and are being significantly hit by the COVID-19. Collectively, the motorcoach, tour and travel industries provide nearly 2 million jobs and create more than $236 billion in economic impact nationwide. These are industries dominated by small entrepreneurial businesses, many of which are multigenerational family businesses. Unlike larger corporate interests, these companies cannot withstand such a significant economic downturn.”

The Adventure Travel Trade Association’s CEO Shannon Stowell noted that a large part of the sector is comprised of small and medium-sized businesses.

“Small and medium size travel businesses comprise the long tail of travel. As a group, they drive significant economic impact in the U.S. but due to their relatively small sizes don’t have deep pockets to weather this unprecedented situation,” said Stowell. “Tour operators, lodges, guides and travel agents need support in this critically dangerous financial environment.”

Brian Beal, CLIA’s vice president, government affairs noted that the loss of cruising has a big hit on the economy.

“These are unprecedented times for the world—and its impacts are far reaching,” said Simon. “This is especially true for the tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihoods. We know that for every 1% drop in cruising from the United States, up to 2,000 jobs can be lost. We are committed to seeing our community through this crisis. This is a resilient community, and we are confident that cruising will be an important contributor to the economic recovery, given that every 30 cruisers from U.S. ports creates one U.S. job.”

The group agreed to take specific actions:

—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.

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 Evan Beck, Executive Vice President

—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

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