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Congressman Crist Pushes Bill To Help Florida’s Struggling Hotel Industry

Pictured here is a large hotel surrounded by palm trees on a beach in Clearwater, Florida.
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Florida Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is pushing Congress to pass legislation to help the hotel industry. Crist says his ’Save Hotel Jobs Act' will allow owners and operators to apply for a grant that will cover employee payroll and benefits.

Business travel has yet to fully bounce back from the pandemic, and Florida's hotel industry is struggling partly because of that. Now, Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is trying to give the industry some relief.

American Hotel and Lodging Association CEO and President Chip Rogers says a majority of hotel revenue comes from business travel. A joint report from his association and Kalibri Labs shows that for Florida, revenue from business travel is projected to be down by nearly 61% compared to revenue generated by business travel in 2019.

"There's been a bump this summer in leisure travel, as we all looked at the calendar [and] recognized the days are going to start getting cooler, we knew we needed that business travel, and that's what concerns us," Rogers says.

In a statement supporting Crist's bill, Rogers says, "Government-issued travel bans and restrictions, which are meant to slow the spread of the virus, have wiped out 10 years of job growth in our industry."

The Hotel Development and Management Group, headquartered in Florida, also supports Crist's Bill. Lisa Lombardo works for the group. She says the federal paycheck protection program was only a short-term solution and says the nationwide labor crunch is making it challenging to rehire workers.

"We know of friends in the industry who are closing down entire floors of their hotels because there aren't team members to clean the entire hotel to prepare that hotel for what we hope will be the return of business," Lombardo says.

Crist says his legislation—called the 'Save Hotel Jobs Act'—will help the hotel industry rebound as it works out kinks from the pandemic.

"Not only will the bill cover employee payroll and benefits costs so that workers can be rehired. But it also includes a tax credit for the purchase of personal protective equipment to help keep our hotel workers and their guests safe during the ongoing pandemic," Crist says.

Under Crist's bill, hotel owners and operators would have to apply for a grant to get their employee payroll and benefits covered.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.