Travel CEOs Urge Federal Action on COVID-19 Testing

WASHINGTON—Thirteen CEOs of some of the most recognizable travel-related companies in the U.S. sent a letter to the president and congressional leaders stating that more and better COVID-19 testing is an indispensable component of pursuing an economic recovery, and urging a stepped-up federal role in making effective testing more widely available.

The letter stresses that a sustained recovery will depend on a comprehensive set of measures to provide relief, protection and stimulus for U.S. employers, but says that testing should be incorporated in the next legislative package—specifically the Taking Essential Steps for Testing (TEST) Act that has been introduced in the Senate.

“The travel industry has aggressively gathered data on the coronavirus outbreak and its fallout in order to inform our exhaustive deliberations on best health practices, trends and attitudes among travel consumers, and the proper timing of a safe reopening of the American travel economy,” the letter reads in part. “Analysis of the data leads to the conclusion that broader testing—in concert with other key factors such as a robust federal policy framework of relief and stimulus, rigorous health and safety standards adopted by travel-related businesses, and the universal embrace of good health practices (such as the wearing of masks) by the public—is an essential component of reopening and recovery… Testing enables reopening. Testing enables rehiring. Testing enables recovery.”

The letter was signed by Heather McCrory of Accor North America; David Kong of BWH Hotel Group; Pat Pacious of Choice Hotels International Inc.; Chrissy Taylor of Enterprise Holdings Inc.; Chris Nassetta of Hilton; Jim Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts; Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels Corporation; George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels Group; Jonathan Tisch of Loews Hotels & Co; Arne Sorenson of Marriott International; Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA); and Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

The letter refers to a white paper produced by the U.S. Travel Association that details the industry’s findings with regard to the importance of testing, and why the TEST Act would be a good legislative step toward the necessary broadening of the availability of testing.