DESPITE VACCINES FOR COVID-19 being on the way, U.S. travel spending is expected to finish 2020 down 45 percent down from 2019 levels, according to the U.S. Travel Association. USTA also predicts it may be 2024 before the travel industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
USTA now forecasts travel will bring in $617 billion in 2020, down from $622 billion predicted in July. That’s in comparison to the $1.13 trillion spent on travel in the U.S. overall in 2019. A 34 percent decline in domestic leisure travel spending led to the drop off in revenue, along with a 55 percent drop in domestic business and a 77 percent drop in international inbound.
The drop in spending has led to drastic job loss in the industry, with nearly 40 percent, 3.5 million, of all direct travel jobs vanishing over the past seven months. Another million jobs in the industry are expected to disappear by the end of the year if a new round of federal stimulus is not approved by Congress.
USTA is pressing for talks on the stimulus to continue even in the lame duck session before the new administration comes in.
“A lot of businesses that need help to retain and rehire their people won’t be there in January if we wait until the next Congress to get more aid passed,” said Roger Dow, USTA president and CEO. “The pain among travel employers is extremely acute, and so is the frustration that Washington has been unable to act so far given the size and obviousness of this problem.”
Specifically, USTA is advocating for enhancement and extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of 2021 to allow for a second round of loans. Also, an expansion of eligibility for the PPP program to include 501(c)(6) and quasi-governmental destination marketing organizations.
Also, USTA is seeking the extension of the Coronavirus Relief Fund through at least the end of 2021 and the provision of additional emergency assistance to U.S. airports.
A survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that 72 percent of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69 percent are unlikely to travel for Christmas.