COVID-19 Industry Update
April 16, 2020
The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners met earlier today, and we will provide an update on that meeting and other topics later today. Below are a number of recent developments and important items to share with you.
Congressional leadership has been unable to reach an agreement on additional economic relief despite widespread concern that the funding allocated by the CARES Act to the Small Business Association (SBA) loans isn't enough. Reports have also suggested that applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which is intended to provide loans of up to $2 million to small businesses, may only receive loans of $25,000-$35,000 due to high demand.
New Cares Act Guidance
The Federal Reserve and Treasury have released new guidance earlier this week that answers some of the questions and recommendations U.S. Travel outlined previously. Despite the guidance, U.S. Travel is still concerned that too much of the travel industry is being left out. The updated guidance includes:
- Exchange Stabilization Fund: The Federal Reserve will establish a new municipal bond facility to provide funding for states, cities and counties who have suffered from lost tax revenue. The Fed also provided additional clarification on its Main Street Lending Program and its Primary and Second Market Corporate Facilities.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Treasury provided clarification on business affiliation for PPP applicants as well as guidance on how borrowers should calculate their payroll costs and the number of employees. More info can be found here and on this updated U.S. Travel fact sheet. However, the SBA announced this morning the program is no longer accepting any more applications.
U.S. Travel continues to update its very detailed and helpful CARES Act resources toolkit.
Travel & Hospitality Economic Revivial Group Created
The White House has named travel and hospitality as an industry group that will work on forging a path to economic recovery. The Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups are comprised of major U.S. industries, including hospitality, healthcare, financial services, food and beverage, retail, tech, manufacturing and others. U.S. Travel President & CEO Roger Dow, who calls St. Pete home, is part of the group that includes Carnival Cruise Line, Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Marriott, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Treasure Island Hotels and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
GULF TO BAY Magazine
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s annual destination magazine, Gulf to Bay, was recently released and is available for order here, including free mailing to your home. The 112-page, glossy magazine offers locals and potential visitors a resource for dreaming about that next staycation or getaway to St. Pete/Clearwater. It features this year’s “Best of St. Pete/Clearwater” winners in 28 categories, a large-scale area map and time-lapse photo spread and much more. The 650,000 copies will be distributed globally, including newspaper distribution around Florida and in key out-of-state feeder markets.
Food for Thought: Hotel Cleaning Program
The world is wondering what the re-opening phase of COVID-19 looks like and the tourism industry is starting to see some specific examples on the lodging side, while many others are speculating other changes. Singapore has rolled out a nationwide audit for hotels to be “SG Clean.” Hotels have to meet seven criteria, including checking employee temperatures and, where feasible, temperatures for tenants, contractors, suppliers, hotel guests and event guests. On the group side, experts are speculating that cleaning clauses will start to appear in contracts for rooms and meeting spaces, which may require redefining nightly cleaning standards for many properties.
Airport & Airline Funding
Grant amounts from the CARES Act for airports around the country have been released and it includes more than $81 million for Tampa International Airport and almost $9 million for St. Pete/Clearwater International Airport. The stimulus funding will allow critical safety and capacity projects to continue as planned. In addition, the Trump administration has reached an agreement in principle with major airline companies over the terms of a $25 billion bailout. According to the Treasury Department, airlines participating in the payroll support program are Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, United, SkyWest and Southwest. However, on Monday, the Treasury also proposed additional conditions on the aid airlines received, asking carriers to pay back 30% of the grants for which they applied.