COVID-19 has affected virtually all businesses in a short period of time, but the most affected undoubtedly will be the travel industry. Even after the crisis passes, it’s unclear how comfortable people will be to travel as they did before the shutdowns.
According to a new report by the U.S. Travel Association, the blow dealt to the travel industry is projected to cause a $809 billion loss to the U.S. economy and the loss of 4.6 million travel-related jobs.
In fact, the report says the impact will likely be six times as bad as 9/11.
On Tuesday, these numbers were presented to U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow during a White House meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and travel leaders.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated…
“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. 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.“
Roger Dow urged congress to consider $150 billion in overall relief for the travel sector, which includes an emergency liquidity facility, a travel workplace stabilization fund and modifications to small business loans for travel agencies.
Representatives for Disney and Universal also attended the meeting.
“Employee retention is the single most important issue for me,” Richard Bates, chief lobbyist for The Walt Disney Co., told President Trump. “Second would be liquidity. So frankly support some kind of employee-employer payroll tax holiday.”
It’s clear that the government is keenly aware that the travel industry is going to be hit much, much harder than other sectors. How they’ll react in the wake of this unprecedented event remains to be seen.
Currently, all Disney and Universal theme parks are closed worldwide. While the U.S. parks are shooting to reopen on April 1, new guidelines and restrictions seem to cast some doubt on that. Florida has extended school closings until at least April 15, and new restrictions on gatherings in California have gone into effect.
It’s unclear exactly what kind of financial losses Disney will be taking from the closures, but it’s estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars per week.
[Source: Travel Pulse]