Tourism & Hospitality drives for extra support

Published on : Monday, April 12, 2021

The industry leaders told lawmakers that tourism and hospitality sector has been devastated by the pandemic, experiencing quick declines in businesses that will slow down the recovery from without additional state action.

Many speakers have mentioned about the terrible economic picture at a Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee hearing targeted at learning about the impact of pandemic. It could take several years to get back to normal from the massive job losses and decline in spending, they warned.

“We’re not going to be able to wish, pray and hope our way out of this pandemic,” said Martha Sheridan, president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s just not going to happen. The only way we’re going to get out of it is if we remain competitive and invest strategically in tourism promotion.”

On Thursday, the federal government introduced a new $16 billion grant program for all venues that got shuttered, assisting live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, movie theater operators, and talent representatives affected by obligatory close downs.

Industry leaders wish for the state Legislature to increase those programs. A top priority several cited a bill that would direct $200 million from the billions in federal stimulus funding Massachusetts received to help cultural organizations recover.

Through Friday, 51 lawmakers had cosponsored the bill. One more important change many said that they are keen to see is a clearer timeline for business restrictions. Getting to know the exact time when gathering limits will increase would encourage many tipped workers to return to the workforce, speakers said, and would give event venues enough lead time to ramp up operations.

“If those employees don’t see that gathering numbers are going up and in fact the number of people they’ll be serving is increasing, which will have a direct corresponding increase on their wages, the desire to return to work for them might be less,” Sheridan said.

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