More than 80 U.S. House members from both sides of the political aisle have signed onto a letter urging congressional leaders to provide relief for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) whose funding has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis.
Despite their pivotal contributions to local and regional travel economies, many DMOs were unintentionally left ineligible for coronavirus relief funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) because of their non-profit or quasi-governmental status.
The U.S. Travel Association has been working with Congress to correct the problem, since DMOs will be vital to driving visitor, meeting, and convention traffic back into their jurisdictions once the worst of the health crisis is past and the moment of recovery is at hand.
“The travel economy has been devastated by the coronavirus, with more than one-third of the job losses occurring in the travel and hospitality sector,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “But travel simply will not be adequately prepared to help lead the recovery without the work of destination marketers, which are critical engines of economic development in their states, cities and regions.
“We thank Reps. Matsui, Titus, Bilirakis, and Wilson, and all members who signed this letter for their leadership to address this important issue.”
Dow’s organization has called for other structural changes to enhance the effectiveness of the CARES Act, and for the much-needed replenishment of PPP funds.
Research compiled by the U.S. Travel Association offers compelling evidence that tourism promotion is vital to the creation of jobs, better wages, and a higher quality of life in jurisdictions that invest in it.
“The actions we take now will have a significant impact on the speed and sustainability of our economic recovery,” reads the letter signed by House members, in part. “Much of the strength in the domestic travel and tourism sector can be attributed to statewide and regional DMOs. These organizations create and manage initiatives that fuel the economic support to drive tourism and visitor spending across the U.S.”
The letter goes on to emphasize that destination marketing is particularly crucial in smaller cities and regions: “While DMOs have been successful in bringing tourists to gateway cities like Los Angeles and New York, they also drive tourists to visit smaller or mid-size markets, generating billions of dollars in economic activity for these communities.
“However, the severity of the coronavirus’ economic disruption to domestic travel has threatened the financial viability of many DMOs.”