Congress Takes Up Bill Designed to Bring Back Travel and Events

February 26, 2021
Congress Takes Up Bill Designed to Bring Back Travel and Events

A bipartisan bill to provide a much-needed jolt to the travel and hospitality industries reached the U.S. Senate floor Thursday. Dubbed the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, the legislation proposes tax incentives to reimplement meetings and events programs and other related services that would bring back millions of jobs lost during the pandemic.

Highlights include:

  • A temporary business tax credit to revitalize business meetings, conferences and other structured events.
  • A temporarily restored entertainment business expense deduction to help entertainment venues and performing arts centers recover.
  • An individual tax credit to stimulate non-business travel.
  • Tax relief for restaurants and food and beverage companies to help restore food service jobs and strengthen the entire American food supply chain.

Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the same senators who issued a recent amendment benefiting the industry, are sponsoring the bill, along with Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Tom Rice (R-SC) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).

 The travel and hospitality industries have disproportionately been ill-affected by COVID-19. Almost four in 10 U.S. jobs lost in 2020 are in the leisure and hospitality sector, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The economy has lost half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending last year—10 times the negative economic impact of 9/11, the association adds.

 “The evidence is abundantly clear: there will not be a U.S. economic recovery without a travel recovery, and travel cannot recover without strong and innovative policy assistance,” said USTA President and CEO Roger Dow in a statement.

 The bill’s progress is the second positive sign among government agencies that help is on the way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week moved hotel workers up to stage 1c of vaccine distribution. “ 

“Travel and tourism are critical drivers of the American economy, and while travel demand has hit record lows, ensuring hotel employees are prioritized during the vaccine rollout will help keep both employees and guests safe when it becomes safe to travel and resume meetings and events once again,” noted Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Both pieces of news add to the momentum the events industry seems to be attaining. As vaccine distribution advances, several shows have occured in-person and anecdotal evidence suggests booking is rising.

Almost immediately upon the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act’s introduction, USTA issued a letter signed by more than 80 events-related organizations — including CVBs, hotel chains, vendors and industry associations — backing its passage.

“As the broader travel and hospitality industry continues to do its part to provide a safe and healthy environment for its workers and guests—we look to Congress to help put in place the policies needed to facilitate a quick and sustainable economic recovery, ensuring a better and brighter future for all travel workers,” the letter reads.

A similar bill failed last fall, but a new administration and several additional months of a stagnant economy may tip the scales this time around.

“For months we have been urging Congress to provide stimulus for travel demand in addition to the relief this industry so badly needs, and we thank the sponsors for advancing this bill that would do so much to spur recovery,” Dow said.

 

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