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TRAVEL INDUSTRY LEADERS CALL ON U.S. ADMINISTRATION TO STEP UP COVID-19 TESTING

14 top hospitality CEOs have sent a joint letter to President Trump urging the US Federal Administration to step-up Covid-19 testing.

Signatories include Roger Dow of the US Travel Association, Hilton’s Chris Nassetta, Marriott International’s Arne Sorenson and Elie Maalouf of IHG, along with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Accor North America and Choice Hotels.

The letter points out that “Restoring travel will require an aggressive and comprehensive suite of measures to provide relief, protection, and stimulus for travel-related businesses—83% of which are small businesses,” adding, “The events of recent weeks have made very clear one indispensable component of efforts to spur a national recovery from the health and economic crises: broadening the availability of efficient, effective, 24-to-48-hour COVID-19 testing.”

The travel industry leaders urge Congress to include the TEST Act in the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, and to provide more robust federal investment in the research, development, distribution, and capacity of COVID-19 testing.

The letter goes on: “The federal government must also continue to provide leadership through developing a national strategy, validating new testing technologies and protocols, and encouraging a more coordinated response across all levels of government.”

The US Travel Association has published a white paper on the indispensable role of Covid-19 testing, outlining a five-point plan. The plan calls on Congress, the administration, industry, and travellers to jointly pursue a layered and phased approach for safely reopening the travel economy. The five key goals of the plan are:

1. Deliver continued relief for impacted travel workers and businesses: For those businesses without enough revenue or demand to rehire workers, Congress must provide continued financial relief through grants and loans.

2. Implement industry-wide health and safety measures: Leaders from every travel sector worked with public health experts to develop industry-wide health and safety guidance. This guidance aligns with and exceeds CDC guidelines, and can be adopted across the industry to protect workers and customers.

3. Provide limited safe harbor for businesses that follow proper guidelines: Congress should provide limited, temporary and immediate safe harbor for businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines to protect against COVID-19. This will provide businesses with the certainty they need to reopen and rehire.

4. Promote healthy travel to regions that have safely reopened: Congress should provide grants to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) for promoting healthy travel practices and generating demand in regions where it’s safe to travel. This will ensure travellers do their part to keep themselves and others safe, while generating the necessary demand to rehire workers.

5. Incentivize a safe restart of the travel economy through tax credits and deductions: With health and safety measures in place, Congress should stimulate demand by providing temporary tax credits and deductions. This will incrementally boost demand in order to accelerate rehiring of the travel workforce.

Link to letter: https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/UST_TestingLetter_7.27.pdf

Link to white paper: https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/COVID19-Testing.pdf

PHOTO – TOP OF PAGE – Hospitalman Ashley Cotcher, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), performs a mock COVID-19 nasal swab screening with Hospitalman Angel Ortega, Mar. 31. – COPYRIGHT 2020 US NAVY

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