Coronavirus expected to be six times more damaging than 9 11

Fallout from the Covid-19 coronavirus will be six times
worse for the travel industry than the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a new report
from Tourism Economics estimates.

The analysis, which the U.S. Travel Association said it
presented to the White House on Tuesday, forecasts the virus and the resulting
restrictions will inflict a $809 billion hit on the U.S. economy. The travel
industry will be hit harder than any other sector, resulting in the loss of 4.6
million travel-related American jobs this year.

Total spending on travel in the U.S. — including
transportation, lodging, retail, attractions and restaurants — is projected to
plunge by $355 billion for the year, a 31% decrease. That is six times greater
than the impact of 9/11, the report said.

Additionally, the analysis said, estimated losses by the
travel industry alone are severe enough to push the U.S. into a protracted
recession, and the projected 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost would nearly
double the U.S. unemployment rate.

“This situation is completely without precedent,” said U.S.
Travel president and CEO Roger Dow. “For the sake of the economy’s long-term
health, employers and employees need relief now from this disaster that was
created by circumstances completely out of their control.”

Dow said he and other travel leaders met Tuesday with
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur
Ross to push consideration of a proposed $150 billion relief package for the
travel sector that would provide aid for both employees and small-business

Dow said 83% of travel employers are small businesses.

“The health crisis has rightly occupied the public’s and
government’s attention, but a resulting catastrophe for employers and employees
is already here and going to get worse,” Dow said in a statement.

“Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans,
and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep
paying their employees. Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps,
the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower
rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it.”

Jeri Clausing contributed to this report.

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