The American Bus Association—the industry leader advancing North American motorcoach travel and tourism—applauded Congress for agreeing to a third COVID-19 economic relief package, but says, ultimately, they missed the bus.
"We appreciate Congress and the Administration coming together to continue to help small businesses during this time of crisis," said Peter Pantuso, ABA president & CEO. "Of the 3,000 bus and motorcoach companies in the United States, 90 percent are small, family-owned businesses who have had to close their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. By having to shut their doors and no one traveling, nearly 100,000 employees, which include drivers, cleaners, maintenance and repair, and administrative and safety personnel, are now without incomes."
The ripple effect on the group tour and travel industry, Pantuso stresses, brings it to a standstill.
"ABA's nearly 3,000 travel and tour members are mostly small businesses," said Pantuso. "Many of the 2 million people that work in group travel industry are also are unemployed and the U.S. economy will lose $237 billion in economic value generated by the industry. These shops and restaurants, museums and attractions, et cetera have taken a direct hit to the chin and, in many cases, have had to close their doors."
Pantuso says Congress missed the bus, completely ignoring the motorcoach industry—the movers of America—while every other form of passenger transportation, such as airlines, Amtrak and transit have received more than $50 billion in assistance.
"The bus and motorcoach industry connects cities; connects rural areas to urban centers; serves as the only means of intercity transportation in many parts of America; serves workers in every part of the country, including commuters in urban environments and business campuses, mines, oilfield workers, et cetera; serves the security and strategic needs of the country by moving troops and takes people out of harm's way during hurricanes; connects families and friends; and brings travelers to tourist destinations economically, when Americans do not have the access or the resources to use other modes of transportation," said Pantuso.
"What will happen when disaster comes and there is no one to call? Congress needs to help the bus and motorcoach industry NOW!"
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Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.