Chirag Shaikh, senior vice president for federal affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, spoke out to lawmakers about the serious economic challenges facing his industry after the pandemic.
Hotels suffered unprecedented devastation in the past 18 months. Business declines were not only more severe than those experienced during the Great Recession but also worse than those experienced during the Great Depression,” Mr. Shah stated. “The impacts on hotel revenues were nine times worse than those we saw after 9/11. Hotels across the country were forced to reduce operations or shutter, leading to a loss of more than 700,000 jobs in 2020.”
The draft Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act, according to the committee, includes measures to “study the impacts of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry, elevate travel and tourism matters at the U.S. Department of Commerce, promote travel to the United States, and set visitation goals for international travelers to the United States.”
Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of Public Affairs and Policy for the U.S. Travel Association, told lawmakers that international travel to the U.S. remains severely depressed, due largely to pandemic-related restrictions with Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and several other nations.
She said in 2020, international travel spending in the U.S. declined by 79%, leading to the loss of 1.1 million American jobs.
“For each week that travel restrictions on Canada, the EU, and the UK remain in place, the U.S. economy will lose another $1.5 billion in international visitor spending, which is enough to support 10,000 American jobs,” she testified.
The U.S. travel and tourism industry suffered a $766 billion loss in 2020, reported travelpulse.com, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual economic impact report showed that travel and tourism provided over 16.5 million jobs in 2019, but that number dipped 33.2% to 11.1 million last year. The hearing is held in light of Monday’s announcement by the Biden administration that it will lift travel restrictions to the U.S. starting in November. Foreign nationals entering the country must show proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination, and will not be required to quarantine at their destination when they arrive.
The lifting of travel restrictions was a welcome development for lawmakers looking to revitalize the tourism and travel industry.
” The announcement by the Biden administration that the United States will soon take safe and practical steps to remove foreign travel restrictions with proof that they have been immunized is welcome news. This policy will give a boost to Nevada’s tourism industry,” stated Senator Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat.
She encouraged administration to “proactively increase safe international travel and invite more visitors from around the world to our state .”
The Travel Optimization by Updating and Promoting Mobilization (TOURISM Act) was originally introduced by Ms. Rosen. It was also sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, and Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus chair Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat.