COVID-19: Nassetta forgoing salary | CARES Act passes

Hilton CEO forgoes salary 

Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta will forgo his salary for the rest of the year and the company’s executive committee will take a 50% pay cut for the duration of the crisis prompted by the coronavirus, the company said. Many of the corporate team’s reduced schedules or furloughs of up to 90 days, which were announced March 23, will begin April 4, according to a press release. Corporate team members not furloughed will have their pay reduced by up to 20%.

Read more at USA Today 

Tourism arrivals could plunge in 2020

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released its updated assessment of the likely impact of the COVID-19 on international tourism. Taking into account the unparalleled introduction of travel restrictions across the world, the organization expects that international tourist arrivals will be down by 20% to 30% in 2020 compared with 2019. However, UNWTO stresses that these numbers should be interpreted with caution in view of the uncertain nature of the current crisis. An expected decrease of 20% to 30% could translate into a decline in international tourism receipts (exports) of US$300 billion to US$450 billion, almost one third of the US$1.5 trillion that was generated in 2019. Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that five to seven years’ worth of growth will be lost to COVID-19. Putting this into context, UNWTO notes that in 2009, following the global economic crisis, international tourist arrivals declined by 4%, while the SARS outbreak led to a decline of just 0.4% in 2003.

USTA, AHLA applaud passage of CARES Act

The U.S. Travel Association and the AHLA released separate statements applauded the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, over the weekend. But both groups also said the law could go further in providing relief to an unprecedented health and economic crisis. “As we have previously noted, we are disappointed that Congress was unable to increase the limits on Small Business Administration loans so that they would be more workable for our industry during this unprecedented halt in travel. Under the current limits, hoteliers will only be able to meet their payroll and debt service obligations for an estimated 4-8 weeks,” noted AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers.

“While the CARES Act represents tremendous progress toward keeping our economy functioning at this challenging and unprecedented moment, it is clear that more will need to be done to protect the livelihoods of American workers,” said USTA President and CEO Roger Dow. “This relief package will help create a bridge for some time, but there are some that this won’t help — and the longer it takes to implement, the more jobs will be lost. We stand ready to work with Congress and the administration to ensure that the economy recovers as quickly as possible once the worst of the health crisis is finally past.” 

MGM donations bump employee relief fund

MGM Resorts International acting President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the company will only open its doors when it is “safe and appropriate,” according to a video posted on the MGM Resorts website. Some of the aid the company is offering:

•   MGM Resorts has donated US$1 million to an employee emergency relief fund

•   The eligibility of that fund is being expanded to cover more people

•   Singer Bruno Mars has added US$1 million to the employee fund

•   The estate of Kirk Kerkorian donated US$2 million to the employee fund

•   Hornbuckle donated US$100,000 to the fund and expects other senior leadership to do the same

•   The company has donated US$400,000 to local food banks across the U.S.

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Travel industry: Real ID extension may need to go further

The U.S. Travel Association has cautioned that the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of a one-year Real ID enforcement delay may need to go longer to avoid further disruption to the travel economy. In a March 26 letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, U.S. Travel cited polling data showing that the U.S. had not made significant strides toward Real ID compliance even before the coronavirus crisis. A new analysis compiled by U.S. Travel and Longwoods International, a market research consultancy, shows that if the Real ID were implemented today, an estimated 67,400 travelers would be turned away at airport security checkpoints on the first day, and more than 471,800 within the first week.