The tourism industry in the United States is hoping to gain a boost following a disastrous first and second quarter due to a global pandemic which severely limited the ability and desire for many to travel. Now, the industry is hoping for the "Explore America" tax credit to be approved, a move which could potentially serve as an incentive for Americans spending on traveling on hotels, theme parks, and other tourism businesses. It is ultimately a $4,000 tax break which tourism industry folks are hoping gets approved as many around the country remain weary to the notion of getting on planes or in large crowds.
"The idea has already attracted one important booster: U.S. President Donald Trump, a hotel owner himself," the Orlando Sentinel reports. "The 'Explore America' tax credit is one of a host of proposed subsidies that tourism industry lobbyists are pitching to policymakers as the early contours of a new economic stimulus package begin to take shape in Washington."
The U.S. Government has already committed trillions of dollars to efforts aimed at helping the economy recover after many businesses were closed down and millions of people lost jobs amidst the spreading of the novel coronavirus.
“Right now, our businesses need relief. But ultimately, we’ll need recovery,” Tori Emerson Barnes, a lobbyist for the U.S. Travel Association, said. The U.S. Travel Association includes members such as Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.s Universal Parks & Resorts, with several others.
On the other hand, Wendi Walsh, an officer with UNITE HERE, is hoping to see the theme parks and tourist attractions be given requirements to improve conditions for front-line workers on the fronts of job security, wages, benefits, and/or paid sick time. “I think we really need to move from incentives to requirements to get these companies to do the right thing,” Walsh said.
“I think there’s a recognition that travel overall is going to need to be stimulated, and that will take dollars,” Jon Bortz, the chairman and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, said in a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal. This is where the Explore America tax credit comes into play. The concept has not been finalized but early drafts envision an income tax credit worth up to 50 percent of a household's spending on expenses which include airfare, rental cars, hotels, attraction tickets, and meals in restaurants more than 50 miles from residence. It would be capped at $4,000 per household and run through 2021.
Park Hotels & Rsorts Inc., Six Flags Inc., and other businesses in the tourism industry have hired new D.C. lobbyists in recent weeks to work on COVID-19 and stimulus issues.