In a Wednesday press conference in Washington, D.C., leaders from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, Airlines for America and the National Retail Federation gathered to reassure the general public that “the vast majority of Americans are safe” despite fears surrounding the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“U.S. government officials have cautioned that travel abroad in certain high-risk areas should be watched, but they’ve clearly said the risk to travel in the U.S. is low,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “As Americans, we should react appropriately and avoid overreacting. There are no current warnings for travel in the U.S.”

The U.S. Travel Association recently revised its tourism forecast for 2020, predicting that international inbound travel to the U.S. will fall 6% over the next three months. Dow estimated that the decline would result in the loss of around $3 billion.

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, similarly encouraged American travelers to “make fact-based decisions.”

“While we remain vigilant about the cases being reported, we urge businesses and consumers to understand that travel is still possible,” said Rogers. “In our industry, hotels have protocols in place to deal with everything from the common cold to the flu. Hotels are cleaned each and every day.”

Rogers added that AH&LA member hotels are making adjustments to their cleaning protocols, cleaning common spaces more frequently and deploying an increased number of sanitizer stations that use formulas with a minimum alcohol content of 60%.

Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, provided an update on behalf of the airline industry, announcing plans to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his senior team to develop “pragmatic, effective solutions” for protecting the public. 

According to Calio, one of the industry’s primary concerns revolves around the ability to effectively collect airline passenger data, which would improve the tracking of international inbound travelers to the U.S. who may have been exposed to the virus while en route to the U.S.

“We remain hopeful that the federal government will act expeditiously to obtain contact information as quickly as possible directly from arriving international passengers,” said Calio. “We have thought and still think that building a website and app will be the quickest way to obtain verifiable and accurate contact information. We have been urging HHS (the Department of Health & Human Services) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to do so for weeks. Other countries have accomplished this, and so should the U.S.”

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