Ashford, Inc. CEO urges President Trump, Congress, to support hotel workers and owners during COVID-19 pandemic

Monty Bennett, CEO of Dallas-based Ashford, Inc.  

Monty Bennett, CEO of Dallas-based Ashford, Inc., urged congress to extend support to hotel workers and owners during the novel coronavirus pandemic in a column on Medium.

President Donald Trump met with hotel executives on March 10 to discuss the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had and will likely continue to have, on the hotel industry.

“As a hotelier himself, the President does not need to be educated about the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the hospitality industry,” Bennett wrote. “But the President and Congress need to know why their efforts to help the industry must extend to thousands of hotel owners who must stay in business so that a recovery can thrive.”

The industry supports 8.3 million jobs and 2.3 million workers, adding $660 billion each year to the national GDP, wrote Bennett. The thing that might surprise people and congress is that the majority of the hotel industry are small businesses.

"Any assistance to the industry should be oriented to help hotel workers first, and the business owners who employ most of them second,” Bennett wrote. “We appreciate the fact that policymakers are focused on helping employees first until they can get back to work.”

Bennett outlined the actions that his company believes the government should take.

“Hotel owners need relief that will allow them to delay debt payments on their hotels – we cannot pay wages to employees or any other bills when our occupancy rates are near zero. Hotel owners need to use their paltry cashflows to keep employees working and maintain operations,” Bennett wrote. “That means any relief legislation from Washington should allow debt payments to be delayed for at least 18 months. Hotel owners may also need cash assistance with liquidity problems at the hotel level to meet basic operating costs.”

He also suggested tax deductions for business and leisure travelers, to encourage travel to resume when the COVID-19 crisis ends.

“Imagine, a 400% deduction for businesses and individuals for travel that everyone hopes will resume this summer – this would be rocket fuel for a recovery and could be phased out as the economic engine winds up,” Bennett wrote.

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