There’s no disputing that the stimulus provided by the U.S. in the form of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has greatly helped many hoteliers, but now the question is with some $1.3 billion of unused funds left in the coffers will it provide the industry any further relief?
Despite the fact that the deadline to apply for funding from the PPP was extended earlier this week until August 8, according to The Washington Post, lawmakers such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are heading a group charged with figuring out the best use of the remaining funds for small businesses.
In talking about the leftover funds, Chip Rogers, CEO, AH&LA, remained hopeful that the lodging industry could be a beneficiary.
“Since the money has already been allocated we’re supporting–and we believe there is significant support in Congress–putting that into another version of the PPP that is directed specifically toward those businesses that have been hurt the most during the pandemic,” he said.
Rogers further added that AHLA has strongly advocated for the Restart Bill, a bipartisan bill which is currently in the Senate and is focused on helping those businesses that have experienced a revenue loss of 50 percent or more because of the pandemic.
“We think that’s right in line with that should be happening, let’s send the resources to those business that need it most,” he commented.
Rubio is reportedly working on legislation that would create new programs to expand uses for funds, such as allowing chambers of commerce to apply as well as allocating more funding to those businesses that were affected by the pandemic.
Rogers commented on the importance of chambers of commerce. “Anyone who is focusing on promoting travel we certainly support them. I know there is support among many to make sure these organizations can gain access to funding and I think they should. Those organizations have employees like everybody else and they’ve been damaged severely because so many of them rely on occupancy taxes for their funding and when there is no occupancy there are no taxes. So they’re an incredible part of the American economy and supporting travel and we certainly support them,” he noted.
The Washington Post further reported that according to a draft copy of the bill that it obtained, the legislation would also set aside $25 billion for businesses with fewer than 10 employees and formally prevent hotel or restaurant chains from receiving more than $2 million total. Rogers again reiterated that funding should be “focusing on those individual businesses that have been hurt the most and have the biggest drop in revenue.”
Meanwhile, there have been a number of large, publicly traded companies which were initially able to cash in on PPP prompting considerable backlash. Within the hospitality sector, Ashford Companies was one such company and ultimately decided to return the funds to the government amid public pressure.
Rogers, for his part, did not think all of the criticism was warranted instead finding some culpability with the government and specifically the program.
“They did change the rules a number of times along the way and that’s always concerning. As a company that’s suffering and trying to find access to resources to keep the doors open you’re looking anywhere you can. Then you follow the rules and the rules get changed; that could be a big challenge. The original language that came out of Congress talked about businesses that had access to other funding, but just because a company is public doesn’t necessarily mean they have access to other funding,” he said.