U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow and other industry leaders met with Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday at a roundtable on the hard-hit travel and tourism sector, afterward expressing appreciation for the vice president’s attentiveness to the industry’s concerns and needs.
The latest data shows that travel-related unemployment in the U.S. is now at 51%—more than double the worst national unemployment rate recorded during the Great Depression (25%).
“It’s a difficult time in every corner of the country, but the pandemic has been particularly dire for the American travel industry, which before the crisis supported 15.8 million jobs and $2.5 trillion in annual economic activity,” Dow said. “Our discussion with Vice President Pence affirmed this administration’s understanding that travel faces unique challenges, but could help power a strong rebound with the right policies in place—including our suggestion of an ‘Explore America’ tax credit the president spoke favorably of yesterday.”
The roundtable included several Florida-based members of U.S. Travel in addition to Dow, who offered a national perspective on the industry.
Dow’s interaction with Pence touched on the full scope of travel’s economic reach—leisure travel; meetings, events and conventions; and destination marketing organizations (DMOs), among others—and its deep interconnectedness with sectors such as restaurants, retail and transportation.
Dow also emphasizes that perspective as a member of the president’s economic recovery task force, known as the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”
“Our message to elected leaders has been that travel is a much broader ecosystem than many may think, and that view is starting to prevail,” Dow said. “Recent legislative proposals have been highly reflective of our legislative priorities, including enhancements to the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP] and expansion of access for organizations such as DMOs.”
At the meeting, Dow summarized for Pence the travel industry’s most immediate policy needs, including:
- Limited, temporary, and immediate protection from coronavirus-related liability for reopening travel businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines;
- Expanded relief under the PPP and other vehicles so travel businesses can remain open until a recovery; and
- Stimulative measures once the recovery begins, such as direct travel promotion funding, and the entertainment and dining deduction and “Explore America” tax credit mentioned by the president Tuesday.