ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As the U.S. Congress negotiates a new Coronavirus relief package for individuals and businesses, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) — the leading voice of business travel worldwide — has called on Congressional leadership to enact measures to renew business travellers’ confidence and to curb the devastating impact of the pandemic on the vital sector of the global economy. The August 3 letter to Congressional Leadership calls for increased funding for rapid COVID-19 testing across the U.S. and for additional financial relief for stricken travel businesses that continue to face the near-cessation of all work-related travel worldwide.
“As the pandemic enters its sixth month in the U.S., business travel to date has shown only minimal signs of recovery and our more than 9,000 members are reeling financially,” says Dave Hilfman, executive director of the GBTA and a long-time senior airline leader. “As Congress considers how best to boost the economy and protect public health, we strongly urge leadership to prioritize and fund rapid COVID-19 testing to restore travellers’ confidence. We also urge Congress to take actions that will give the travel sector peace of mind from potentially crippling litigation and expanded access to the relief funds necessary to stay in business and keep people at work.”
The business-travel industry has come to a halt worldwide, according to GBTA research. Some 98 per cent of GBTA member companies report having cancelled or suspended all international business travel. Nearly the same number — 95 per cent — report having cancelled or suspended all or most domestic travel.
In addition to expanded testing and qualified immunity against potentially fraudulent class-action lawsuits for businesses who follow public-safety guidelines and take recommended precautions against coronavirus infection, the GBTA Congressional letter calls for the extension and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program; improvements to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program; and the reinstitution of allowable tax deductions for business meals at restaurants.
The GBTA letter in full can be read here.
“This pandemic has touched every aspect of people’s lives, including their travel practices, and as a result, the entire business-travel sector went from the speed of jet travel to zero miles per hour,” says Hilfman. “We will continue to work with elected leaders and public-health officials on policies that will help business travel rebound, kick-start the economy and aid workers who depend on business travel to put food on their tables. We hope Congress listens to our requests; we very much need them to take action to prevent catastrophic results to this important worldwide industry.”