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U.S. Travel: COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact Devastating on Travel Businesses and Workers

U.S. Travel: COVID-19 Coronavirus Impact Devastating on Travel Businesses and Workers

The dire impact numbers, prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics, were presented by U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow at a Tuesday White House meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other travel leaders.

A new analysis released Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association projects that decreased travel due to coronavirus will inflict an $809 billion total hit on the U.S. economy and eliminate 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year.

“The health crisis has rightly occupied the public’s and government’s attention, but a resulting catastrophe for employers and employees is already here and going to get worse,” Dow said Tuesday. “Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans, and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep paying their employees. Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps, the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it.”

Dow noted that 83% of travel employers are small businesses.

Other notable findings in the travel impact analysis:

  • Total spending on travel in the U.S.— transportation, lodging, retail, attractions and restaurants—is projected to plunge by $355 billion for the year, or 31%. That is more than six times the impact of 9/11.
  • The estimated losses by the travel industry alone are severe enough to push the U.S. into a protracted recession—expected to last at least three quarters, with Q2 2020 being the low point.
  • The projected 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost would, by themselves, nearly double the U.S. unemployment rate (3.5% to 6.3%).

“This situation is completely without precedent,” Dow said. “For the sake of the economy’s long-term health, employers and employees need relief now from this disaster that was created by circumstances completely out of their control.”

At the Tuesday White House meeting, Dow urged the administration to consider $150 billion in overall relief for the broader travel sector. Among the suggested mechanisms:

  • Establish a Travel Workforce Stabilization Fund
  • Provide an Emergency Liquidity Facility for travel businesses
  • Optimize and modify SBA loan programs to support small businesses and their employees.

Worst of Travel Jobs Catastrophe Will Hit in Next Two Months

Coronavirus will cost the U.S. travel sector 4.6 million jobs by the end of April, according to updated analysis released Wednesday by the U.S. Travel Association.


Earlier projections released by U.S. Travel foretold catastrophic losses of $355 billion and 4.6 million travel-related jobs this year.

But the latest data shows that $202 billion in direct travel spending and all 4.6 million jobs will disappear before May.

The numbers highlight the need for aggressive and immediate action by the federal government, travel leaders say. The non-airline travel sector is seeking $250 billion in disaster relief to avoid putting millions of Americans out of work.

“The news we have for policymakers and the public is very challenging: the 15.8 million American jobs supported by travel are directly in the crosshairs of the health crisis, and the only thing that’s going to protect them is aggressive financial relief right now,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow, who on Tuesday presented the economic impact projections and the travel industry’s relief request to President Trump and Vice President Pence at a White House meeting.

Dow continued: “There are countless stories of travel businesses—83% of which are small businesses—working hard to do right by their workers. But the cold reality is they can’t support their employees if they don’t have any customers, and they don’t have any customers because of the actions needed to halt the spread of coronavirus. Millions of Americans shouldn’t have to lose their jobs by acting in the interest of public health.

“We’re witnessing the shutdown of travel. The economic effects of that are already disastrous, but could become worse and permanent unless the government acts now.”

Relief measures requested by U.S. Travel on behalf of the industry include:

  • Establish a $250 billion Travel Workforce Stabilization Fund to keep workers employed.
  • Provide an Emergency Liquidity Facility for travel businesses to remain operational.
  • Bulk up and streamline the SBA loan programs to support small businesses and their employees.

Click here to read the full economic impact report.