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Impact of Coronavirus on Travel Industry Job Losses Worsens

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The U.S. Travel Association says that projections of job losses in the travel industry from the coronavirus outbreak are direr than previously thought.

The organization has revised projections, which now show a loss of 5.9 million jobs by the end of April due to declining travel, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics.

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Last week, the data showed 4.6 million jobs lost to travel declines before May.

Travel supports 15.8 million American jobs in total—employment for one out of every 10 Americans and the loss of this many jobs will more than double the U.S. unemployment rate from 3.5 percent to 7.1 percent by the end of April.

“The coronavirus crisis is hitting the travel economy hard, and it’s also hitting fast,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. “These new figures underscore the extreme urgency of financial relief for travel businesses—83 percent of which are small businesses—so they can keep paying their employees. Not only are workers suffering right now, but if employers are forced to close their doors, it is unknown when or if those jobs will ever come back.”

The association is advocating for several measures in the “Phase III” coronavirus package that is currently being negotiated in Congress. Among their requests are:

—Access to more significant small business loans, and ensure immediate access to retain employees and cover basic costs during the shutdown.

—A Workforce Stabilization Fund to help medium and larger travel businesses retain their workers and remain solvent.

—Tax relief to help mitigate economic losses.

The new U.S. Travel Association data also forecasts an expected loss of $910 billion in travel-related economic output in 2020, which would be seven times the impact of 9/11 and the organization predicts that the slowdown in the travel sector alone will push the U.S. economy into a protracted recession.

“The health crisis deserves the government’s full attention, but the economic crisis will be worse and longer without aggressive action to confront it right now,” Dow said. “Businesses can’t keep their lights on if they don’t have any customers, and they don’t have any customers because of the actions that are necessary to stem the spread of coronavirus. The resulting closures will take the greatest toll on the frontline employees who can least afford to lose their jobs—wait staff, housekeepers, concession workers, etc.

“Robust intervention by the federal government is the only avenue to make sure those outcomes are minimized.”

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U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19

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The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel + Leisure pointed out that the release of this directive in late March coincided with the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 travel advisory, which warns Americans to avoid all international travel and instructing those outside U.S. borders to return home immediately or risk being stranded abroad for an indefinite period of time.

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The Passport Divisions’ recent policy change mentioned that those who had already applied to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one prior to March 20, 2020, will not have their orders affected. The agency said that it would honor its commitment to fulfilling those expedited-service orders placed on or before March 19 within two to three weeks, door-to-door.

Moving forward, passports will be available only to persons facing qualifying life-or-death emergencies, such as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in their immediate family, which require them to travel outside the United States within 72 hours’ time.

Such persons will need to not only provide their passport application and supporting documents, and proof of planned international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket or itinerary), but also proof of the life-or-death circumstance. This might include documents like a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and must be translated into English.

To make an appointment at a passport center in the event of a life-or-death emergency, one must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a. m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST); or call (202) 647-4000 outside of regular business hours.

No indication was given as to when the State Department would again begin accepting passport applications. As is now the case among most organizations that are attempting to respond to the continually evolving pandemic, its future plans remain up in the air. The announcement only stated, “The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes.”

For more information, visit travel.state.gov.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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