Leaders from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America, and the National Retail Federation today convened at a press conference to discuss the impact of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and the U.S. business community’s response.
Prior to the press conference, the Leading Travel Index, the predictive component of the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index, released a report projecting a 6 percent decline in international inbound travel to the United States over the next three months. The report factored in data from January when coronavirus awareness was on the rise and China began to restrict travel. Compared to last year, the 6 percent drop is the sharpest in TTI’s five-year history and would be the largest since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
During the press conference, Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, said that while certain high-risk areas abroad are under travel restrictions or warnings, there are no current warnings for travel in the United States. “Expert guidance tells us that for the majority of Americans, travel within the United States is safe and it should go on unimpeded,” Dow said.
Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said that the hotel industry remains committed to the health and safety of its employees and guests, and encouraged travelers to follow CDC guidance on COVID-19 while recognizing that domestic travel is still possible.
“I want to reiterate how critically important the health and safety of our guests and employees is to us as an association and to each every one of our members,” said Rogers. “As someone who is on the road, all the time, my plans to travel next week are not changing. America’s hotel industry remains open and ready to serve our guests.”
Rogers added that CDC guidelines around coronavirus focus on good hygiene—a major focus of the hotel industry. Rogers said that hotels already have high cleaning standards in place and are taking further precautions in light of the outbreak. “In our industry, hotels have protocols in place to deal with everything from the common cold to the flu,” Rogers said. “Hotels are cleaned each and every day. Currently, our members are working with industry experts to make adjustments to those protocols as needed, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning common spaces and supplying additional sanitizer stations with a minimum alcohol content of 60-90 percent.”
“The fact is that there is no place in the United States right now that it is not safe to travel,” Rogers said during the press conference. “Spring break is coming up; Millions of Americans—students and families—should not be putting off those plans out of fear.”
Rogers added that people still want the experiences that come with travel and hotel stays. “Even if there is a small dip here in domestic travel, there’s going to be pent-up demand after that.”