Tourism execs are asking for a $150 billion bailout, saying the economic impact to the travel industry will be worse than the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 recession combined

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the travel industry. AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images

Some of the embattled tourism industry’s top executives are asking the government for $US150 billion in aid to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

The global travel industry is in turmoil. Commercial airlines are suspending flights as demand for travel drops and countries impose travel restrictions. Major cruise companies are cancelling cruises. Marriott, the world’s biggest hotel company, just furloughed tens of thousands of staff.

The coronavirus will have a more “severe economic impact on the hotel industry than 9/11 and the 2008 recession combined,” Chip Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), told reporters in Washington, DC on Tuesday, according to The Hill.

Bellagio las vegas
The Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, which is now shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, seen in January 2020. Kyodo News via Getty Images

Rogers, along with other industry executives, met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday and asked Congress for relief. The proposed aid package could include a travel workforce stabilisation fund for retaining and rehiring employees, the creation of an emergency liquidity facility for travel business, and improvements to the Small Business Association loan program.

4.6 million Americans stand to lose their jobs in the travel industry

The US Travel Association estimates the drop in travel because of the coronavirus pandemic will result in an $US809 billion hit to the US economy and 4.6 million Americans losing their jobs in the travel industry, according to a report released by the association on Tuesday. That’s almost 30% of the 15.8 million people employed at travel-related businesses, according to CEO Roger Dow.

“Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans, and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep paying their employees,” Dow said on Tuesday. “Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps, the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it.”

The report also found that total travel spending in the US is expected to drop by 31% for the year – more than six times the impact of the September 11 attacks.

The Trump administration is seeking a $US1 trillion stimulus package to boost the suffering economy amid the pandemic, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said could include loans and emergency support payments to households.

Trump has proposed making a $US50 billion bailout to the airline industry part of his stimulus package, but he did not specify at the White House meeting on Tuesday whether he would approve the entire $US150 billion aid package the travel executives were requesting, according to the Hill.