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How Small Travel Businesses in the U.S. Survive COVID-19

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More than half (55%) of all small travel businesses in the U.S. are at risk of either taking longer than six months to recover or never recovering at all.

Small businesses are essential to the travel industry and the U.S. economy, providing valuable jobs in every pocket of America. As vital as small businesses are to a nationwide economic revival, a large swath—the travel sector—has yet to receive adequate, necessary relief.

There is an extreme threat to travel-supported jobs, which employed one in 10 Americans pre-pandemic, according to data prepared for U.S. Travel Association by the data analytics firm Tourism Economics.

A massive 95% of all accommodation and foodservice employment is found within small and medium-sized businesses, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration, with only 5% of those sectors’ employment found in businesses categorized as “large.” By comparison, only 28% of manufacturing jobs are found in small- or medium-sized businesses.

“These numbers highlight the urgent need for further legislative measures to provide immediate relief to small travel businesses and their employees, many of which were unable to access earlier rounds of aid,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

“Washington acted quickly and aggressively to get assistance out the door in the early days of the pandemic, but the situation remains exceptionally dire on huge swaths of Main Street U.S.A., and more needs to be done.

“We will do whatever it takes to get leaders to return to the negotiating table and advance another deal before the election. Each moment that passes makes it likelier that more small businesses will shut their doors and never reopen—meaning those jobs are gone for good, too.”

U.S. Travel has outlined a slate of policy priorities to provide relief, protection and stimulus for travel businesses and jobs. Short of that, the association supports a stand-alone measure to provide more resources to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.

More than half of travel-supported jobs in the U.S. disappeared between the onset of the pandemic and May 1, and the overall U.S. economy is projected to lose $1.2 trillion this year because of the drop in travel. Prior to the pandemic, travel was a Top 10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

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