In a statement on March 13 following the just-announced suspension of most air travel to and from Europe as a tactic for slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the U.S. Travel Association quantified the potential impact of the move on the U.S. economy and argued for protections for America’s travel employers.
In March 2019, 850,000 international visitors flew to the U.S. from Europe (excluding the UK), spending approximately $3.4 billion in the U.S., according to a statement from U.S. Travel. This represented about 29 percent of total overseas arrivals to the U.S. during that period
The organization’s president and CEO, Roger Dow, believes that the hit to the economy demands action by government. “In taking aggressive steps to protect the public against coronavirus, the U.S. government should now consider equally aggressive steps to protect America's workforce and employers,” Dow said in the statement. “The public's health is the top concern, but now the policy conversation must address the health of the economy.
“Temporarily shutting off travel from Europe is going to exacerbate the already-heavy impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and the 15.7 million Americans whose jobs depend on travel. We have and will continue to engage Congress and the administration on policy steps that are necessary to ensure that travel employers—83 percent of which are small businesses—can keep the lights on for their employees."
This is second time U.S. Travel has weighed in on the fast-moving COVID-19 situation in a week. On March 10, the association joined 149 meeting- and travel-related organizations who signed a statement encouraging travel to continue. In part, the statement read: "The latest expert guidance indicates that for the overwhelming majority, it's OK to live, work, play, and travel in the U.S. By seeking and heeding the latest expert guidance—which includes vigorous use of good health practices, similar to the preventive steps recommended for the seasonal flu—America's communities will stay strong and continue to thrive. The decision to cancel travel and events has a trickle-down effect that threatens to harm the U.S. economy, from locally owned hotels, restaurants, travel advisors, and tour operators to the service and frontline employees who make up the backbone of the travel industry and the American economy.”