AAHOA Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala, left, and Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey spoke at last week’s Legislative Action Summit in Washington, D.C.

FOR THE FIFTH year, representatives from the hotel industry went to Washington, D.C., to meet with Congress members and advocate for their support. Leaders of AAHOA and the American Hotel & Lodging Association once again made their case for the industry’s importance to the nation’s economy.

This year’s summit focused on three main issues: the reauthorization of international tourism driver Brand USA; congressional action on online booking scams; and combating illegal hotels that advertise on short-term rental platforms.

“When the hotel industry speaks with one voice, our lawmakers listen,” said Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey. “Our advocacy efforts on behalf of our employees, our businesses, and our industry have never been stronger.”

The hotel representatives emphasized that hospitality businesses support 8.3 million jobs in the U.S. and generates $660 billion in revenue, including $186 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

“Hotels make dreams come true every day—not just for our guests, but the 1 in 25 Americans whose jobs we support,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Hotels in every congressional district are vital to the strength of communities and a major driver of the economy.”

AHLA has been advocating for tighter regulation of short-term rental sites, like Airbnb and HomeAway, which it says have been taking advantage of loopholes in the law to avoid regulation and taxes. A recent survey by polling site Morning Consult found 73 percent of respondents support an amendment to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to stop the companies from invoking the federal law to avoid compliance with state and local ordinances.

During the summit, Reps. Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina, and Ami Bera, D-California, participated in a panel discussion that covered a range of issues from the efficacy of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the hospitality industry’s one million employee labor shortage and bipartisanship in Congress. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, discussed the impact that small businesses, such as hotels, have on local economies as well as legislation, such as the Save Local Business Act, that addresses inconsistencies in the joint employer standard.