Biggest hotel organization made up of Indian-Americans predicts long term recovery, demands more stimulus

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Biran Patel, 2nd from left, vice chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, joined other small business owners in standing with President Donald Trump during a Rose Garden announcement about the administration’s new rules governing health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) on Friday, June 14, 2019. (Photo courtesy AAHOA)

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association, AAHOA, the largest association of its kind in the world, said the second stimulus package passed by Congress was not enough to meet the needs of the industry.

The overwhelming majority of the members of AAHOA are of Indian origin. According to the organization, the 19,500 AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States, an industry which is one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement released April 23, 2020, AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton said the organization appreciated the second tranche of the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program, PPP, and Health Care Enhancement Act, passed by a bipartisan Congress, but more needed to be done to bolster the hard hit hospitality industry.

“America’s hotel owners are grateful for our government’s swift action to appropriate additional funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program,” Staton said. “However, we are concerned that these measures do not go far enough to blunt the impact this economic crisis is having on the hospitality sector of the economy.”

Staton went on to say the formula for determining the maximum PPP loan amount still does not provide hotel owners with enough liquidity to weather this storm, and that on an average, PPP loans only cover about 47 percent of a hotel’s operating costs.

Currently, many hotels’ occupancy rates were hovering around the single digits, and owners are struggling to keep their doors open, Staton said.

“The stimulus also does not address the reality that this crisis will not be over in a matter of weeks,” Staton went on to say, urging Congress to extend PPP through the end of 2020.

“Hotels are a signal industry. Hotel owners and their employees felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at its onset as occupancy rates and revenue declined steeply,” Staton noted adding that warnings from government officials about reopening will mean a slow return to travel, tourism, conventions and meetings.

“This means that hotels will be one of the last industries to recover. Without targeted and meaningful support, policymakers run the risk that thousands of hotels and the millions of jobs they create may not be around when the recovery from this pandemic begins.”

With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, “AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community,” the organization said. “AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream,” it added.

 

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