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“One of the major challenges of a national economic recovery will be restarting the $2.6 trillion American travel industry, which has been virtually shut down by the coronavirus pandemic,” according to a letter co-signed by 14 travel industry CEOs that was sent today to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders.
It goes on to state that the events of recent weeks have highlighted how “broadening the availability of efficient, effective, 24-to-48-hour COVID-19 testing” is imperative to driving economic recovery.
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The CEOs and major U.S. travel companies represented include Heather McCrory of Accor North America, Inc.; David Kong of BWH Hotel Group; Pat Pacious of Choice Hotels International, Inc.; Chrissy Taylor of Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; Chris Nassetta of Hilton; Jim Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts; Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels Corporation; George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels Group; Jonathan Tisch of Loews Hotels & Co.; Arne Sorenson of Marriott International; Sean Menke of Sabre Corporation; Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association; and Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
As a start toward improving COVID-19 testing, the letter urges the “swift consideration and passage of the TEST Act [and] bipartisan Senate legislation that would enhance the resources and collaboration tools the federal government devotes to COVID-19 testing.”
Regarding the Timely and Effective Systematic Testing (TEST) Act, the letter reads as follows: “The bipartisan TEST Act includes many important policy adjustments to bolster the federal role in testing. It supports improvements in testing and reporting practices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); it invites the participation of experts to more fully integrate laboratory and epidemiological systems; it mandates measurable steps toward improving the rapidity and accuracy of testing, and defines it as an essential public health security capability; and it revamps grant structures to better support the disease detection activities of state and local health departments, among other measures.”
The letter also points out the great losses that the travel industry has suffered so far. This includes a depletion of more than half of 15.8 million tourism-related jobs in 2019, and a drop in travel-related spending that is projected to cost the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion by the end of 2020.
Enhanced and more accessible COVID-19 testing is necessary in conjunction with other factors such as “a robust federal policy framework of relief and stimulus; rigorous health and safety standards adopted by travel-related businesses; and the universal embrace of good health practices (such as the wearing of masks) by the public,” according to the letter.
The DetailsU.S. Travel Associationwww.ustravel.org