On Thursday, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Kevin Cramer unveiled new bipartisan legislation to provide comprehensive relief and recovery measures for the convention, trade show, entertainment, travel and hospitality industries and their workers. The bill, titled the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2020, aims to stimulate the economy by creating new recovery incentives for hospitality and trade shows, enhance the employee retention tax credit to help maintain worker connections to their employer, and provide recovery incentives for middle class families to jumpstart travel when safe.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Senators Masto and Cramer note, employment in travel and tourism has fallen by 23.9 percent across the nation this year. Additionally, the bill notes that statistics from the U.S. Travel Association says that the travel economy has shrunk by $402 billion since March and travel spending has declined by 45 percent since last year.
The Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act would address the significant challenges facing the tourism and hospitality industries by:
- Provide a modest tax credit for qualified travel expenses for many Americans.
- Supporting the convention and trade show industries by establishing a tax credit for the cost of attending or hosting a convention, business meeting, or trade show in the United States between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2023
- Make improvements to the Employee Retention Tax Credit
- Restore the Entertainment Business Expense Deduction by repealing the changes made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
- Support the restaurant industry by establishing a tax credit for restaurants or food service businesses, covering any cost associated with reopening or increasing service at an establishment forced to close down or reduce operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic—including any renovation, remediation, testing or labor cost needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Credit would be effective between the date of enactment and December 31, 2022
The bill was applauded by the U.S. Travel Association, with executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes issuing the following statement:
“Targeted economic relief for struggling travel-related businesses needs to be a significant priority in America’s broader economic recovery plan. The bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act includes a number of crucial measures to provide much-needed economic stability to millions of Americans whose livelihoods rely on travel and tourism while also helping drive demand to more quickly bring back the jobs that have been lost to the pandemic.
“The leisure and hospitality industry has suffered nearly 40 percent of all job losses nationwide, and a staggering 50 percent of all travel-supported jobs will be lost by the end of December if there is no federal intervention to provide aid. The bill’s targeted approach to providing tax incentives would ensure that these hard-hit businesses—including those in the meetings, events and entertainment segments—get the help they so desperately need to recover from this crisis.
“Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Kevin Cramer are to be commended for introducing this important piece of jobs legislation, and we urge policymakers to consider this bill or include its policy measures in a broader legislative relief package.”
In addition, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) announced its support for the bill. In a statement, Eben Peck, EVP, advocacy said:
“ASTA strongly supports the bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, which, among other things, would create new tax incentives for convention and trade shows, expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit and provide tax credits to Americans who spend money on travel through 2023. It will provide immediate benefits to many of our members—which is welcome as many of the CARES Act relief programs have run dry—while stimulating the recovery of the travel industry, the health of which is central to the overall U.S. economy. We commend Senators Cortez Masto and Cramer for their comprehensive approach here, and stand ready to fight for its inclusion in the next COVID-19 relief bill.”