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Industry Association Execs Weigh in on Coronavirus Relief Package

Danica Tormohlen
, Editor-at-Large
March 29, 2020
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WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, known as the CARES Act, which includes several provisions that could impact the exhibitions and related industries.
 
The bill passed the House early Friday and was signed into law by President Trump also on Friday.
 
Key features of the bill include:
  • A $500 billion loan program for businesses
  • Increase in unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months
  • $150 billion in funds for hospitals and medical centers.
  • $150 billion in aid to state and local governments
  • $367 billion in loans for small business
  • Direct payments of $1,200 to adults making $75,000 or less annually, plus a $500 payment to cover every child in qualifying households.
 
A summary, as well as the full text, of S.3548 bill can be found at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548
 
TSE asked industry association leaders to weigh in on the potential impact to their constituents. Here’s what they told us.
 
Cathy Breden, CEO, CEIR
“The $2 trillion ‘rescue’ package provides both direct and indirect assistance to the exhibition industry. Directly, the package offers a lifeline to organizers and exhibitors to beef up their cash flows should they need it. How long the lifeline is depends on the details of the package. The indirect assistance is far more important than the direct assistance. The package should ensure a quick recovery to the U.S. economy in the second half of the year after a sharp and Great Depression-like recession during the first half of the year. After the Great Recession, the exhibition industry took a decade to surpass the previous peak. Essentially, a decade was lost for the exhibition industry. With this package, we expect a full recovery for the exhibition industry in 2021.”
 
David DuBois, President & CEO, IAEE
“We are optimistic this will provide some temporary relief for our industry. The SBA loans, or grants in some circumstances, will be available to those who qualify and apply. 
IAEE – along with the US Travel Association, the Events Industry Council and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition – aggressively pushed lawmakers to ensure the legislation took an expansive view in its definition of travel and hospitality sectors. We worked to make sure that exhibitions, events, tradeshows and all others associated with the industry fit under that broad umbrella. All of us need to be able to access this economic relief.”
 
David Audrain, Executive Director, Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO)
“We are waiting for our advisors to give us a clear summary of what our industry will be able to access.  It looks quite helpful for many small businesses, but the ease of access, the time to get funds, and the reality of ultimate loan forgiveness has yet to be made clear.”
 
Don Welsh, President & CEO, Destinations International
“Destinations International is supportive of the legislation that provides immediate financial resources for travel and tourism businesses, which are among the hardest hit by this crisis and which provides relief for the millions of workers in the sector likely affected by the pandemic.  
 
We’re hopeful that further legislation will provide reasonable financial resources for destination organizations, which are typically funded by hotel taxes and are facing unprecedented budget shortfalls due to the circumstance well beyond their control. Destination organizations provide invaluable community services during a crisis and will be instrumental in fueling the recovery of the travel and tourism industry following this pandemic.”
 
Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association
"With this bipartisan deal, Washington is providing a vital lifeline to protect millions of travel workers and help businesses of all sizes keep their lights on through the worst of the health crisis. No legislative package was ever going to erase 100% of the pain from the economic catastrophe being caused by coronavirus, but this deal gives the travel economy a fighting chance to weather the eye of the storm and prepare to quickly lead the recovery. Travel businesses—83% of which are small businesses—help supply 15.8 million U.S. jobs, almost six million of which could disappear in the next five weeks. The stakes are huge for the country's economic health both now and in the future, and we urge our leaders to continue to take bold actions to protect the economy of our country."
 
Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel Lodging Association
“We continue to support the underlying foundation of the CARES Act to help the livelihoods of millions of American workers and thousands of small businesses. However, there is one challenge that makes the current plan unworkable for hoteliers. The legislation limits an SBA loan to 250% of average monthly payroll. This limit will not allow a business owner to meet both payroll and debt service obligations beyond an estimated 4 to 8 weeks. Consequently, it will result in furloughing the very workers the bill seeks to protect. Since the measure reduces debt forgiveness with any reduction in payroll, hoteliers would be forced to use the entire loan amount on payroll, at the expense of debt service. The harsh reality is that travel restrictions and mandated business closures remain in place. The outlook for the foreseeable future is zero revenue for most hotels. If a hotelier cannot make debt payments the business will go under and the jobs are lost.”
 
Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9201 or cbreden@iaee.com; David DuBois at (972) 687-9204 or ddubois@iaee.com; David Audrain at (404) 334-4585 or David@ExpoDevCo.com; Don Welsh at (202) 296-7888 or dwelsh@destinationsinternational.org; Roger Dow at (202) 408-8422 or rdow@ustravel.org; Chip Rogers at (202) 289-3100 or crogers@ahla.com.
 
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