Loudoun Chamber joins VRLTA and more than 800 Businesses & Associations Calling on General Assembly to Fully Fund Relief Request to Support Tourism & Hospitality Businesses Devastated by COVID
RICHMOND, VA – The Loudoun Chamber of Commerce has joined the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association (VRLTA) and more than 800 statewide businesses and associations to support allocating $291 million of Virginia’s American Rescue Plan funding to the tourism and hospitality industry.
The VRLTA-led coalition is calling on the Virginia General Assembly to adopt this budget item during the August special legislative session, which convenes on Monday, August 2. VRLTA will lead a robust outreach effort directed at the General Assembly to encourage adoption of its relief request.
The global pandemic devastated the Virginia tourism and hospitality industry, causing record loss in revenues and shuttering roughly 1 in every 5 Virginia restaurants. As the industry tries to recover, it is facing 200-300% increase in costs and many in the industry cannot fully staff or maintain pre-pandemic service hours and capacity. The industry accounted for nearly half the jobs lost due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and still half of those jobs remain unfilled, leaving businesses to attempt a recovery while struggling to handle full occupancy.
The Federal Restaurant Relief Fund was shuttered in July, leaving nearly half of Virginia’s applicants unanswered, and even as peak travel season is upon us, travel expenditures are down 30% from healthy years. This industry contributes so much to our culture as a Commonwealth, and it desperately needs our help.
VRLTA President Eric Terry said, “The crisis for Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry is still very much ongoing, even as other industries resume a sense of normal. As a voice for the industry, we must do our part to ensure our elected officials understand the urgency of our request. Our members have suffered monumental losses over the course of the pandemic and are doing their best with limited resources to make up for the $14 billion deficit suffered last year. Governor Northam recognizes the urgency and has announced his intent to fund the tourism and hospitality recovery, and we have more than 800 organizations across the state who agree. We are calling on our state legislators to adopt this budget item and bring back our hotels, restaurants, and the tourism and hospitality industry that contributes so much to our communities and Commonwealth. We will be ensuring that our legislators hear from their constituents on this issue.”
“So many of Virginia’s tourism, travel and hospitality companies are small businesses, and their industry lost a combined $14 billion in sales last year, compared to 2019, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses and their employees clearly bore the greatest brunt of the government-imposed restrictions designed to limit the spread of the COVID virus. Now it is time for the Commonwealth to recognize those sacrifices and begin to heal this industry by agreeing to VRLTA’s very reasonable funding request,” said Loudoun Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Howard.
While restrictions have been lifted, the pandemic-induced crisis is far from over for Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry. The Virginia legislature will convene in a special session this upcoming Monday, August 2 to determine federal relief allocations.
The industry will be mounting a campaign to support the relief request, and leaders in the tourism and hospitality industry are encouraged to sign the support form at vrlta.org/arp-sign-on-form and contact their legislators directly.
The full proposal and list of signatories can be reviewed via the form web page at vrlta.org/arp-sign-on-form.