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US Travel Reacts To New COVID-19 Relief Bill

By Richard Thomaselli for Travel Pulse | Feb. 27, 2021

Saying it is pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives voted early this morning to approve the third stimulus package in the last year, the U.S. Travel Association said that more needs to be done for an industry that has lost $1 trillion due to the pandemic.

“Given the severity of the impact on the travel and tourism industry, more work remains to provide critical recovery and stimulus measures to safely restore our industry,” U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement.

“While we appreciate that there is more money included for the (Payroll Protection Program), that program needs to be extended past March 31 and a third draw on loans should be allowed for the hardest hit businesses. We also call on Congress to pass the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, and to dedicate additional funding for travel promotion grants.”

The House voted 219-212 in favor of the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package, including $14 billion in aid for the airlines. The bill will now go to the Senate for a final vote.

President Joe Biden is expected to speak about the bill later today.

The U.S. Travel Association said the relief package includes several provisions that will help accelerate the travel industry’s recovery from the devastating impacts of the virus, including resources for vaccine distribution, airport funding, and Economic Development Administration grants.

But noting the significant losses in dollars and jobs in the travel industry, Barnes said it’s still far from clear when demand for travel will return.

The airlines, for example, are still operating at barely half the capacity it was flying at in 2019.

“Bringing travel jobs back will require a holistic, comprehensive policy approach to shorten the recovery trajectory, and we are looking at this relief bill as one important step,” Barnes said.

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