WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new analysis prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics and released on Tuesday projects that decreased travel due to coronavirus will inflict an $809 billion total hit on the U.S. economy and eliminate 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow presented the numbers at a White House meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and other travel leaders on Tuesday.
“The health crisis has rightly occupied the public’s and government’s attention, but a resulting catastrophe for employers and employees is already here and going to get worse,” Dow said. “Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans, and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep paying their employees. Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps, the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it.”
Dow noted that 83 percent of travel employers are small businesses.
Total spending on travel in the United States—including transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants—is projected to plunge by $355 billion for the year or 31 percent—more than six times the impact of 9/11. The estimated losses by the travel industry alone are severe enough to push the United States into a protracted recession that is expected to last at least three quarters, with Q2 2020 being the low point. The projected 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost would, by themselves, nearly double the U.S. unemployment rate from 3.5 percent to 6.3 percent.
“This situation is completely without precedent,” Dow said. “For the sake of the economy’s long-term health, employers and employees need relief now from this disaster that was created by circumstances completely out of their control.”
At the Tuesday White House meeting, Dow urged the administration to consider $150 billion in overall relief for the broader travel sector. Among the suggested mechanisms are: establishing a Travel Workforce Stabilization Fund; providing an Emergency Liquidity Facility for travel businesses; and optimizing and modifying SBA loan programs to support small businesses and their employees.