WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that while Americans remain hesitant about traveling, most support efforts by Congress to help the travel industry recover, including helping hotels keep their doors open and bring back employees, as well as incentivizing Americans to travel again.
According to the survey, 18 percent of the respondents reported taking an overnight trip since March. Tourism Economics reported in April that COVID-19’s impact on the travel industry is nine times worse than 9/11, and more than eight in 10 hotels have had to lay off or furlough workers during the pandemic, according to AHLA.
In the survey conducted by Morning Consult, 70 percent of Americans said they either strongly or somewhat support Congress passing an additional economic stimulus package for sectors that have seen a significant drop in revenue, such as the travel and hospitality sectors.
In addition, Americans mostly support a new, temporary federal travel tax credit to encourage people to travel (61 percent support, 21 percent oppose); mostly support restoring the business entertainment expense deduction to encourage business travel (57 percent support, 21 percent oppose); and mostly support efforts by the federal government to require banks to offer debt relief or forbearance on commercial hotel mortgages (63 percent support, 16 percent oppose), according to the survey results.
“As communities reopen, we are encouraged to see people begin to travel and some hotel jobs return, but make no mistake, most hotels are still trying to survive. Americans overwhelmingly support efforts by Congress to provide the hotel industry with additional support to ensure we can bring back our employees and keep our doors open,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “We need Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis, so we can retain and rehire the people who power our industry, our communities, and our economy.”
AHLA has laid out a “Roadmap to Recovery” calling on Congress to help hotels retain and rehire employees, protect employees and guests, keep hotel doors open, and incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe.
Part of the hotel industry’s roadmap for Congress is providing a temporary tax incentive to encourage domestic travel and restoring the business entertainment expense deduction, which Rogers said will not only provide a boost to hotels and their ability to stay open and retain employees but also the local economies, including restaurants and retail stores that rely on business from travelers.
“By nearly a three-to-one margin, Americans support these measures to help incentivize domestic travel and aid hotels and other struggling businesses and their employees trying to survive this crisis. Whether you live in a major city, beach resort area, or small town off the interstate, hotels are often the anchor to supporting jobs, economic activity, and tax revenue for localities across the country,” said Rogers.
Prior to the pandemic, hotels supported one in 25 American jobs—8.3 million in total—and contributed $40 billion in direct state and local tax revenue in 2018 alone. However, because of the sharp drop in travel demand from COVID-19, eight in 10 hotels had to lay off or furlough workers. State and local tax revenue from hotel operations are estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020, according to a new report by Oxford Economics released by AHLA.
Looking ahead, the survey also found that travel is not expected to fully return until next year, with a majority of Americans saying they have no plans to travel for the rest of 2020.
“The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. We are a major economic driver, supporting millions of jobs and generating billions in tax revenue. Getting our economy back on track starts with supporting the hotel industry and helping them regain their footing,” concluded Rogers.
This poll was conducted online by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA between June 16-19, 2020, among a national sample of 2,200 adults.