Last month, the Biden administration lifted a ban implemented on foreign travelers as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The policy now requires travelers to be fully vaccinated and to test negative for the virus. Shortly after that announcement, the administration announced it would allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals from Canada and Mexico to enter the United States after a 19-month freeze.
These are significant steps toward economic recovery and the revival of travel and the hotel industry.
Earlier this year, AAHOA called for new measures to restart international travel safely and pressed the administration on the financial toll the travel ban took on small businesses. AAHOA also is working with the administration to promote vaccine awareness in the hospitality industry.
So, why are we so aggressive when it comes to advocacy initiatives? The U.S. Travel Association releases statistics every year highlighting the economic importance of travel and tourism to the American economy, and the global economy.
The research firm Tourism Economics prepared end-of-year totals for the U.S. Travel Association, which showed employment for 11% of the U.S. workforce was supported by travel and tourism prior to the onset of COVID-19. It also showed that the travel industry’s economic footprint in the United States dropped from $2.6 trillion to $1.5 trillion, or 42%, in 2020.
And the most eye-opening report from The U.S. Travel Association showed employment devastation, stating: “Travel-supported jobs fell by 5.6 million last year, a whopping 65% of all American jobs lost to the economic fallout of the pandemic.”
While most industries faced some sort of fallout, the hospitality industry, which relies on social interaction and in-person environments, wasn’t only concerned about survival from the virus itself but with economic survival as well.
I remember reading about how certain hotels were pivoting, coming up with ideas like à la carte options or waiving cancellation fees, trying to figure out a way to remain in the black while the numbers in their budgets declined at a rapid rate.
During Thanksgiving, as we went around the table saying what we were thankful for this year, one of the first things that came to mind was the AAHOA family. It’s times like these where I’m thankful for AAHOA’s 20,000 members and our dominance in the industry, representing 60% of the hotels in the country.
It’s a reminder that we’re not alone and have a vast array of resources that keep us going during turbulent times.
Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, and while you could argue that our industry was hit the hardest, we’re also the luckiest. We’re surrounded by others who can relate, lend an ear, and offer advice. How many other industries can say the same?
Enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends. Here’s wishing you all a very Happy New Year!