Travel trade groups on coronavirus

In a Wednesday press conference in Washington, D.C., leaders
from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association, American Hotel
& Lodging Association, Airlines for America and the National Retail
Federation gathered to reassure the general public that “the vast majority of
Americans are safe” despite fears surrounding the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“U.S. government officials have cautioned that travel abroad
in certain high-risk areas should be watched, but they’ve clearly said the risk
to travel in the U.S. is low,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel
Association. “As Americans, we should react appropriately and avoid
overreacting. There are no current warnings for travel in the U.S.”

The U.S. Travel Association recently revised its tourism
forecast for 2020, predicting that international inbound travel to the U.S. will fall 6% over
the next three months. Dow estimated that the decline would result in the loss
of around $3 billion.

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel &
Lodging Association, similarly encouraged American travelers to “make
fact-based decisions.”

“While we remain vigilant about the cases being reported, we
urge businesses and consumers to understand that travel is still possible,”
said Rogers. “In our industry, hotels have protocols in place to deal with
everything from the common cold to the flu. Hotels are cleaned each and every

Rogers added that AH&LA member hotels are making
adjustments to their cleaning protocols, cleaning common spaces more frequently
and deploying an increased number of sanitizer stations that use formulas with
a minimum alcohol content of 60%.

Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America,
provided an update on behalf of the airline industry, announcing plans to meet
with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his senior team to develop “pragmatic,
effective solutions” for protecting the public. 

According to Calio, one of the industry’s primary concerns
revolves around the ability to effectively collect airline passenger data,
which would improve the tracking of international inbound travelers to the U.S.
who may have been exposed to the virus while en route to the U.S.

“We remain hopeful that the federal government will act
expeditiously to obtain contact information as quickly as possible directly
from arriving international passengers,” said Calio. “We have thought and still
think that building a website and app will be the quickest way to obtain
verifiable and accurate contact information. We have been urging HHS (the Department
of Health & Human Services) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention) to do so for weeks. Other countries have accomplished this, and so
should the U.S.”

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