On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating [on COVID-19 relief legislation] until after the election.” On October 1, the House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill—a “scaled-down” version of the HEROES Act, which passed in the House in May, as reported by NBC News. It would still offer a $1,200 stimulus check for citizens, $600 extra in unemployment, support for small businesses, funding for airline industry workers and more.
Following the abandoning of relief negotiations until after the election, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) said it was “deeply disappointed that the White House is dodging its responsibility to support small business owners and travel advisors.”
A statement by ASTA says: “Against this backdrop of human suffering, extraordinary job loss and millions of small businesses closing, the Administration deciding to abandon relief negations is reprehensible. All businesses in the country have been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another, but few sectors have been as hard hit, or face a longer road to recovery, than the travel agency industry.
“More than 9 in 10 travel agencies’ business income is down at least 75 percent, even factoring in the relief programs created by the CARES Act. Close to 64 percent of travel agencies surveyed have laid off at least half their staff. All told, 73 percent of ASTA members predict they will be out of business in six months or less if current conditions hold and additional federal relief is not provided. Travel advisors cannot wait for additional federal aid to come in December 2020 or March 2021.
“We can no longer avoid the conversation surrounding the fact that our own government is not helping where it can and should. Rather—our own government is shirking responsibility and playing an active role bringing the travel industry to its knees.”
Later on Tuesday, Trump posted another tweet saying, “If I am sent a stand alone bill for stimulus checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people immediately.”
Last week, a coalition of almost 200 travel-related and government groups called for Congress to not go on recess without providing relief for sectors devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, a group of 17 travel CEOs sent a statement to leaders in Washington, pleading to advance a subsequent round of legislative relief. In late September, the U.S. Travel Association said more than half of all small travel businesses are at risk of either taking longer than six months to recover or never recovering at all with no additional assistance.