The COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything seen in our lifetimes. Along with great personal sacrifice comes vast economic and financial hardship. The recently passed CARES economic relief package seeks to provide assistance to those who need it.
This economic relief package includes enhanced benefits to unemployed workers and ramped-up loan programs for companies that are impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
"Congress heard us," said NTA President Catherine Prather. "Our colleagues in the travel industry have been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, and passage of the emergency relief act helps solve many—but not all—of our problems."
On top of a previously passed bill that expands paid leave and unemployment insurance in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the latest legislative package provides an extra $600 per month for up to four months to displaced workers who are receiving unemployment payments from their states. The bill also enhances and expedites Small Business Association loans to travel companies with 500 or fewer employees, nonprofit organizations, and self-employed individuals, as well as guaranteed, subsidized loans for large companies, including air carriers.
"Funds are in place to support small businesses, laid-off workers, workforce-heavy corporations, and even self-employed contractors and freelancers who have lost income due to this viral scourge," Prather said. "The immediate challenge will be getting these federal funds into the hands of people who are struggling to hold their businesses and lives together, and NTA intends to help channel solutions in every way possible."
Since the devastating disease all but halted travel worldwide, NTA has taken several steps to keep its members informed and connected. In the past weeks, the association has provided webinars led by industry experts; conducted conference calls with its member networks; added a new discussion community to Engage, its online platform; and posted daily updates for the tourism industry on NTAonline.com. Projects in the works include a platform for members to share their tour product digitally and next-step career resources for travel professionals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Specific programs funded by the $2.2 trillion relief package include these programs that can help the travel industry:
- $377 billion in loans and loan forgiveness for small businesses through the Small Business Administration, which would include size-eligible travel businesses such as tour operators, meeting and event services, hotels, attractions, restaurants, et cetera.
- $454 billion in federally backed financial assistance through the Department of the Treasury for impacted businesses, including those in the travel industry.
- $29 billion for loans and loan guarantees to airlines, repair stations, and ticket agents
- Tax relief to mitigate losses and allow businesses to use cash to pay employees and keep businesses afloat.
- SBA interruption loans for any eligible small business, and also available to any destination marketing organization that is a 501(c)(3) and does not receive an SBA disaster loan, with certain exceptions.
- SBA express loans for any eligible small business, including tour operators.
Additionally, money is allocated for Community Development Block Grants to state and local governments to mitigate economic disruptions in impacted industries, including making direct grants to tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bill also includes money for Economic Development Agency grants to state and local governments for economic injuries to impacted industries, including grants to support economic revitalization of tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19.
U.S. Travel Association has created a COVID-19 CARES Act Relief Resource Page, which offers additional insight into how you could access these funds and assistance, eligibility guides, tips, and more.
Courtesy of Groups Today.