The fight continues in Washington to get PPP loans for sports commissions and CVBs. Amid a new round of coronavirus-related economic closures, the devastated U.S. travel industry on Friday submitted to Congress and the administration its policy requests for the next coronavirus relief package.
The slate of proposals includes measures to help travel employers survive the worst of the downturn; assistance with health-related necessities such as robust sanitation and personal protective equipment; and, eventually, incentives to get Americans safely traveling again when a reopening is fully possible.
Travel industry legislative requests include:
- Extend the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) until the end of the year; expand eligibility to destination marketing organizations (DMOs)—both non-profit and quasi-governmental entities that conduct economic development; increase the amount of the loan; and allow for a second loan. In any transition to a longer-term solution, DMOs and other non-profits should be included.
- Provide up to $10 billion in federal grants to promote safe and healthy travel practices, which are crucial to the resumption of travel.
- Provide temporary and targeted liability protections for travel businesses to reopen.
- Create temporary tax credits and deductions, including: a tax credit to encourage Americans to travel at the right time; a tax credit to restore activity in the business meetings and events sector, including conventions and trade shows; increase the deductibility of business and entertainment expenses; and a tax credit to help businesses of all sizes offset the cost of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, including the cost of structural barriers and personal protective equipment.
- Enhance the Employee Retention Tax Credit to increase business’ ability to retain and rehire workers.
- Support airports.
“Travel companies have worked hard to retain their workers, but most have had zero revenue coming in for four months now, and if they’re forced to close they won’t be around to rehire anybody even when travel is able to resume,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Our asks of Congress are big because the problem is massive and is only growing right before our eyes. You name it, this industry and its workers need it.
After all, he notes, “Travel businesses could not possibly have prepared for this level of catastrophe, and there’s no telling how many of the eight million jobs we’ve lost so far will remain gone for good without aggressive federal intervention to keep the industry on life support.”
And while the PPP program has made some headway in the struggling economy, there are signs it is unevenly applied. Small businesses, such as neighborhood restaurants, have been unable to access the PPP, while high-dollar entities like Kanye West’s Yeezy clothing line, known for its overpriced sneakers, received millions.
Worse, there is evidence that the the PPP program has, in fact, been accessed by companies that are not eligible for it; an e-mail from USAE News, headlined, “Dozens of Meetings Industry Organizations Receive PPP Loans,” included the note, “Organizations from every corner of the sector received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans including several CVBs whose tax records list them as 501(c)(6) entities, which are ineligible.”
USAE did not respond to requests for comment, and no information could be located about the alleged discrepancy.
Dow also emphasized that government action alone will not move the nation closer to recovery. Infection rates are rising after governors of many states, in pursuit of approval from residents, have relaxed restrictions, and are hoping for an influx of visitors and business.
“In order for jobs to be able to return, everyone needs to be wearing masks in public,” Dow said. “It is so very clear that masks and other good health practices are absolutely critical to dissipating the health crisis and making an economic rebound possible. The country’s collective record on this needs to improve, or the pain will only go on longer.”
Click here to read U.S. Travel’s letter to the administration and congressional leaders outlining the full slate of policy proposals.