WASHINGTON –AAHOA outlined specific and necessary actions the government must take to help avert a catastrophic economic collapse of the hospitality industry. In a letter to congressional leadership, AAHOA highlighted the challenges facing hotel owners, from the liquidity crisis that has plagued the industry since the pandemic’s start to the limitations and complications hoteliers encountered while attempting to seek relief from earlier stimulus efforts, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“Hotel owners are in a precarious situation—through no fault of their own—and are struggling to keep their doors open,” said AAHOA President/CEO Cecil P. Staton. “The small businesses that own and operate the thousands of hotels across the country and the millions of jobs they support will not recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic until people begin traveling again. Until that time, hotel owners need targeted and immediate economic stimulus or the industry will collapse.”
Hotel occupancy rates cratered with the onset of this pandemic, and without guests to serve, rooms to clean, shuttles to drive or meals to prepare, hoteliers find themselves without working capital to pay employees and meet their debt obligations. Most experts anticipate that the industry will not recover until at least 2023.
“Millions of jobs and billions of dollars in assets are on the line,” added Staton. “We call on Congress to make the next phase of economic recovery more accessible and complement existing stimulus programs by adopting the specific policy recommendations outlined in our letter. If Congress fails to act, our local hotels may not be there to welcome guests back into our communities when the pandemic ends and travel resumes.”
The letter outlines several measures Congress can take to avert the impending crisis facing the industry, such as debt restructuring and commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) loan relief. Other measures include expanding PPP to address economic uncertainty and debt service; allowing asset-based businesses to access the Main Street Lending Program; providing limited safe harbors to protect businesses from coronavirus drive-by lawsuits; targeted tax incentives; and significantly expanding the COVID-19 testing regime.
“We are optimistic about Congress’ renewed efforts to stimulate the economy. Our leaders understand the prominent roles that small businesses and travel and tourism play in our communities and our economy. America’s hoteliers look forward to working with them to keep the lights on during this crisis,” concluded Staton.