A new report claims The White House is considering giving the travel industry, notably airlines and cruise lines, a tax deferment to help ease the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.
The virus has played havoc with the industry, as airlines have canceled numerous routes – particularly to the thriving Asian market – and cruises have stopped sailing to dozens of ports. Hotels are losing occupancy; restaurants in popular tourist destinations are less than filled.
Sources told the Washington Post that the Trump administration is considering following in the footsteps of some other countries that have done the same. Italy, for example, announced on Sunday a tax credit for any company that has seen revenue decline by more than a quarter.
On Friday, the Post reported that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow confirmed the administration is considering “timely and targeted” federal interventions.
“Perhaps on a large scale, some of the sectors might need some temporary assistance,” Kudlow said on Fox Business. “We don’t want to act prematurely.”
The government intervention would be akin to the bailout to the industry following the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It has a 9/11-like feel,” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday on CNBC. He also said that “9/11 wasn’t an economically driven issue for travel. It was more fear, quite frankly, and I think that that’s really what’s manifested this time.”
Left unsaid is how a tax deferment would also benefit President Trump’s travel-related businesses. Though he is no longer the head of The Trump Organization, now run by his two sons, Trump owns numerous hotels and more than a dozen golf courses around the world.
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill
The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.
“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.
“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.
The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”
U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.
“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”
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