Grounded: Travel industry reports virus 9 times worse than 9/11

by WorldTribune Staff, April 21, 2020

The United States travel industry has lost eight million jobs amid the coronavirus crisis. That is a third of the industry’s U.S.-based jobs, the U.S. Travel Association said.

90 percent of travelers surveyed had some type of travel or travel-related activity planned before the COVID-19 outbreak and 80 percent of those either canceled or postponed those plans. / YouTube

Travel spending on airlines, hotels, and the hospitality industry has sunk so low that spending losses will top half a trillion dollars this year, the association said.

“It seems hard to believe, but the crippling impact on the travel industry from the coronavirus is much worse than the 9/11 attacks that forced the White House to ground all flights,” Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard noted on April 20.

The U.S. Travel Association said in a new report: “A $519 billion decline in travel spending in the U.S. this year will translate into a total economic loss of $1.2 trillion in economic output. This is more than nine times the impact of 9/11 on travel sector revenue.”

International spending on the U.S. travel industry sunk $25 billion after 9/11, said the group’s report issued by Oxford Economics. The virus crisis is expected to deliver a $116 billion hit.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow urged quick passage of additional stimulus assistance, especially for payroll protection.

“We’re appealing for fixes, the addition of more relief, faster rules, and greater flexibility,” Dow said. “The relief program needs to fit the crisis, and we’re still learning the magnitude and intricacies of this particular crisis.”

Dow urged Washington to add at least $600 billion to the payroll protection plan and to open it up for expenses.

The report Dow released, “The Impact of COVID-19 on the United States Travel Economy,” detailed the devastation that has prompted several airlines to seek significant help from the Treasury Department.

Some new details from the association’s report:

• Overall travel spending last week plunged to $2.9 billion — an 85 percent drop since the first week of March and 87 percent lower than the same week in 2019.
• 90 percent of travelers surveyed had some type of travel or travel-related activity planned before the COVID-19 outbreak and 80 percent of those either canceled or postponed those plans.
• International visits to the U.S. will decline 54 percent this year, assuming partial opening of borders in the second half of 2020.


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