Hotel, Travel Industries Urge Congressional Action on Zika Funding

WASHINGTON— The travel industry joined forces with the hotel industry today, urging Congress to immediately approve emergency funding to address the increased threat of the Zika virus.

Together, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and U.S. Travel Association sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging swift action to help halt the virus’ spread and assist the agencies dealing with its impact.

“The health, safety and security of our guests and employees is paramount to the hotel industry, as it should be to members of Congress,” said AH&LA president and CEO Katherine Lugar. “As the threat of the Zika virus grows, petty politics and Congressional gridlock shouldn’t get in the way of approving the necessary funding to support new research, vaccines and advanced solutions to mosquito control.”

“I’ve been all over Florida and the country listening to people’s concerns about Zika, and no one can comprehend why the U.S. Congress has left this unaddressed,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “What’s most perverse is that the holdup isn’t even about the funding amount—it’s about using legislative procedure to score political points in an election year. This is an ‘only in the Beltway’ moment if there ever was one.”

The letter says, in part: “A failure by Congress to act quickly jeopardizes not only our citizens’ health, but also the U.S. economy. The number of individuals infected with the Zika virus has grown and there have been multiple instances of local transmission. The impact to the travel industry will have adverse and wide spread economic ramifications… Funding for Zika efforts will ramp up local responses to the growing threat, support an acceleration of research and development on vaccines as well as advanced approaches to mosquito control. According to the National Institutes of Health and CDC, money will run out at the end of September so it is imperative that Congress makes funding a first priority when it returns from August recess.”

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