June 4, 2020
The Travel Technology Association
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Monthly analysis & insight on policy issues affecting the travel technology industry

Coronavirus Relief and Recovery

In the midst of a worldwide economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced nearly everyone to stay at home and for businesses of every nature and size to close, Travel Tech worked with members of Congress, the White House, and the departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Transportation to ensure our member companies were included in any discussion regarding relief for the travel and tourism industry. We are grateful that Congress came together to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and ensured that “ticket agents” were eligible for critical loans. Travel Tech continues to work with Congress and the Administration to make certain our priorities are considered and included in future coronavirus relief packages as our nation begins the long journey back to recovery. 

Travel Tech’s recommendations for economic relief and recovery include:

  • Create a temporary travel tax credit to encourage near-term business and leisure travel spending. Travelers would receive a tax credit of up to 50 percent of qualified travel expenses incurred in the U.S. up to a maximum of $4,000 per household.

  • Provide targeted safe harbor for businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. Consumer-facing businesses should be able to rely on the safety guidelines and reopening parameters issued by experts without the threat of liability for implementing that guidance.

  • Provide pandemic risk insurance to mandate that businesses who could demonstrate significant business interruption and sharp decline in present and future revenue would be insured in case of a possible pandemic or epidemic. 

Our member companies are the independent entities that market, distribute, and support the services of all travel suppliers, and we are ready to assist and inspire travelers once again.

Section 230

President Trump issued an Executive Order in May that aims to further weaken the protections provided to online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).  Although aimed at social media, the activity of all internet platforms and services are seriously threatened if the Administration’s directive is not challenged by either Congress or in court.  Section 230 has been enormously important to the growth of the internet by providing legal certainty to an ever-expanding world of internet services, including not just social media, but blogs, consumer review sites, search engines, and in the case of our members, travel and accommodations intermediaries and platforms. Travel Tech continues to work with industry allies and members of Congress to ensure this important legal standard is preserved for the benefit of all users of the internet. 

Path To Reopening Includes Short-Term Rentals
Munro Murdock, Honolulu Civil Beat

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis extends safer-at-home order encouraging outdoor recreation
Sady Swanson, Coloradoan

What Does Coronavirus Mean for Your Summer Vacation? A Smart Traveler’s Guide
Christian L. Wright, The Wall Street Journal

Public Policy Recommendations to Stimulate Recovery of America’s Travel Economy

The Travel Technology Association and its membership of leading online travel innovators support following the guidance of the CDC, EPA, OSHA, as well as state and local health departments. With our industry’s unique position within the broader travel ecosystem, we also recommend the following steps be taken in coordination with local, state and federal officials:  

  • Responsibly open destinations to all forms of travel accommodations and lift temporary, Covid-19 related bans or moratoriums on short-term rentals to give travelers options and to allow homeowners to earn income.

  • Incentivize travel through forward thinking tax policy. This includes promoting local travel by providing state tax credit for in-state travel expenditures, implementing a tax holiday for travel and tourism, delaying/deferring any measures that would impose new or higher taxes on travel service providers, and providing grants and state tax benefits to local CVBs and DMOs for marketing, advertising and promotional efforts.

  • Work with industry stakeholders to develop clear guidance to promote confidence in local tourism. Issue guidance on how citizens can enjoy a state’s offerings and encourage industry stakeholders to develop strong standards for hygiene of airplanes, hotels, STRs, car rentals, and theme parks to increase consumer confidence.

Analysis by Travel Tech President Steve Shur

Lawmakers have a critical role to play in the recovery of the travel economy 

Our industry is leading the way for helping to get the travel and tourism economy back on track.  As travel intermediaries, our members are focused on supporting their supplier partners while simultaneously giving travelers all of the information they need to make informed booking decisions. Suppliers need to reach consumers and get their message out about the extensive measures they are taking to protect the health and safety of travelers. Short-term rental platforms, OTAs and metasearch are critical resources for consumers who are searching for deals and inspiration and looking to travel this summer. TMCs are working overtime to assist business travelers with all of their needs during this crisis and GDSs are working around the clock optimizing and deploying technology to support suppliers and travel agents during this crisis while looking forward to the recovery of the travel economy. 

As the industry is doing its part, policy makers have a role to play as well. At all levels of government, lawmakers can enact policies that will stimulate travel and bring with it the economic benefits of travel and tourism to communities throughout the world. From lifting bans on short-term rentals to family tax credits for travel, to providing relief to DMOs for marketing to ensuring liability protections for travel providers and platforms, lawmakers can do their part to ensure a swift recovery. Travel Tech and its members are working closely with cities, states, Congress and the Administration to ensure that the public policy being implemented not only supports travel industry stakeholders to get them through this crisis, but also enacting policies that will stimulate the recovery of the travel and tourism economy.

Expedia Group Commits $275 Million to Partner Recovery

Expedia Group is doubling down on leading our industry’s recovery efforts with the launch of our Partner Recovery Program. Expedia Group will be committing up to $275 million to help partners rebound from the impact of COVID-19 and fuel industry-wide recovery efforts. Key components of the program will be restoring the industry, restoring partners, and restoring destinations. 

EG research carried out in April 2020 shows lodging partners want support from OTAs in four priority areas as they look to rebound from the pandemic: Demand trends insights on leisure and domestic travel; investments in marketing and demand generation for travel and destinations; increased visibility on Expedia Group’s sites; and financial relief.    

Expedia Group’s recovery program is comprised of global initiatives to support industry recovery and property-level relief designed to help independent partners and small chains rebuild their business, attract high-value guests, and optimize cash flow.    

As Cyril Ranque, president of Expedia’s Travel Partners Group said about the launch, “there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan for recovery. Restoring travel will take an unprecedented level of partnership across public and private sectors, and a deep understanding of what our partners need. This recovery program is the first step in our long journey to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable global travel ecosystem.”

Additional resources to guide recovery strategies can be found in the Expedia Group COVID-19 resource center.

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