• 3/9/21 • Breaking News on COVID Vaccine- Governor Stitt and the State Health Department has announced that Phase 3 of the vaccines will begin today, Tuesday March 9th. Among other specific groups included in this phase, Phase 3 also includes Restaurant and Hospitality (hotel) employees. This is good news. The Governor's office has told us there is no specific documentation required to get a vaccine in Phase 3. They will take your word for it that you work in a restaurant or hotel. Sign up begins today at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.
Please keep in mind that some local pharmacies, some local health departments, and other retailers like Walmart and Sam's Club have separate sign-ups for vaccines.
• 3/3/21 • Red Bud Award Entries Open- Submit your entries now for the Red Bud Awards, an annual program recognizing Oklahoma tourism attractions, destination marketing organizations and journalists for their outstanding efforts to serve and promote Oklahoma's tourism industry. Multiple judges from different backgrounds will be judging the Red Bud submissions and no extension will be made to the entry deadline due to judging schedules.
• 2/23/21 • Lead Travel’s Recovery at Destination Capitol Hill- 40%. That’s the total of all jobs lost nationwide that are attributable to declines in Leisure and Hospitality employment. As we work to advance policies that will put Americans back to work and revive our industry, we must continue to communicate to our lawmakers that the hardest-hit industry is also the key to broader economic recovery. Help to convey our most pressing priorities to your lawmakers through your unique, localized perspective.
Join hundreds of travel industry leaders as we lead the charge for travel’s recovery during this complimentary virtual event on March 17, 2021. We will collectively call on Congress to help fuel travel’s recovery, restore American jobs and boost the overall U.S. economy through much needed additional relief, stimulus to drive leisure and business travel and other job creating policies.
• 2/9-16/21 • OTIA Member Webinar: COVID-19 Sticking Points- Join us for this free member webinar scheduled for Thursday, February 18 from 10-11am, plus time for Q&A.
Vaccinations, Contact Tracing, Managing Sick & Fearful Employees, and Litigation Trends are just the tip of the iceberg of issues facing hospitality employers. Can I mandate employee vaccinations? How should I handle employee illness? What Covid-related liabilities do I have as an employer? If you want to stay ahead of the curve, join us for our session to answer these questions.
Our session is presented by Andria Ryan of Fisher Phillips LLC. Andria is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. She serves as the co-chair of the firm's Hospitality Industry Practice Group and a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force. She represents numerous employers throughout the United States in various phases of labor and employment law. She spends much of her time counseling employers in day-to-day employment and labor decisions and educating employers about prevention and practical solutions to workplace problems.
• 2/2/21 • Red Bud Award Entries Now Open- Submit your entries now for the RedBud Awards, an annual program recognizing Oklahoma tourism attractions, destination marketing organizations and journalists for their outstanding efforts to serve and promote Oklahoma's tourism industry. Multiple judges from different backgrounds will be judging the RedBud submissions and no extension will be made to the entry deadline due to judging schedules.
• 1/29/21 • OTIA PPP Second Draw Webinar Video Available- On Thursday, January 28 the OTIA hosted a webinar to help members gain a better understanding of the recent legislative activity resulting in changes to the first draw PPP loans, as well as with an introduction of the 2nd draw program according to the extended Paycheck Protection Program, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Watch the PPP video webinar.
During the session, members learned who qualifies, what is covered, and which previous recipients are entitled to a “second draw” loan, and what you must do to qualify. A huge thank you to our presenter Donny Matteson, Tax Partner in Eide Bailly, LLP / CPAs, and Business Advisors.
• 1/27/21 • Webinar: Understanding the PPP Second Draw!- Join us for a webinar hosted by ORA/OHLA/OTIA on Thursday, January 28 at 10AM, to gain a better understanding of the revised and extended Paycheck Protection Program signed into law on December 27, 2020.
Learn who qualifies, what is covered, and which previous recipients are entitled to a “second draw” loan, as well as other important details and requirements. Our presenter for this session will be Donny Matteson, Tax Partner in Eide Bailly, LLP / CPAs, and Business Advisors. There is no cost to participate, view recording here.
• 1/19/21 • SBA & PPP Update- The Small Business Administration announced the PPP opened to small lenders last Friday, January 15, and all lenders today, Tuesday, January 19. Community financial institutions are already accepting applications. See more loan and application details.
The Small Business Administration released updated PPP application forms for (new) first draw and second draw loans.
• 1/12/21 • New PPP Applications Are Now Available- The Small Business Administration has released the applications for businesses to use to apply for the next round of PPP loans. There are different applications and different criteria for borrowers based on whether it is your first PPP loan or your second. The Paycheck Protection Program re-opened on Monday, January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make first draw PPP loans now and second draw PPP loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter.
Below you will find links to the second draw borrower application, an updated first draw borrower application and additional guidance for interested companies.
Generally speaking, 2nd draw applicants must be able to show a 25% decrease in revenue in any calendar quarter in 2020 versus the same calendar quarter in 2021.
Please contact your accountant and your bank to make sure you will be ready when you are eligible to apply. There are special rules (larger loan amounts and higher employee limits) that apply only to restaurant and hotels so be sure your advisors are aware of this.
NEW Application for Second Draw PPP
Form 2483-SD – Second Draw Borrower Application (Released 1/8/21)
Updated Application for First Draw PPP
Form 2483 – First Draw Borrower Application (Updated 1/8/21)
Guidance & Resources
Top-Line Overview of First Draw PPP Loans (Released 1/8/21)
Top-Line Overview of Second Draw PPP Loans (Released 1/8/21)
Interim Final Rule #1 – PPP as Amended by Economic Aid Act (Released 1/6/21)
Interim Final Rule #2 – PPP Second Draw Loans (Released 1/6/21)
Accessing Capital for Minority Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns Guidance (Released 1/6/21)
Procedural Notice #1 – Modifications to SBA Forms 3506, 3507 and 750 CA (PPP only) (Released 1/8/21)
Procedural Notice #2 – SBA Procedural Notice on Repeal of EIDL Advance Deduction Requirement (Released 1/8/21)
For more information and updates, visit SBA.gov/PPP or Treasury.gov/CARES.
• 1/8/21 • Rules Released for PPP Second Draw Loans- 501(c)(6) ORGANIZATIONS & DMOS CAN NOW PARTICIPATE The Small Business Administration has released rules for a second draw loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This was a hard-fought win by our industry, and we are pleased that 501(c)(6) organizations can participate. Highlights include:
501(C)(6) organizations and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are newly eligible if the groups employ less than 300 employees and do not 1) receive more than 15 percent of receipts from lobbying activities nor do 2) lobbying activities comprise more than 15 percent of the total activities of the organization.
Calculating Gross Receipts Decline: For an eligible 501(c)(6) organization, or eligible DMO, gross receipts are consistent with section 6033 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
Calculating Loan Amount: The three options to calculate the average monthly payroll figure, that is multiplied by 2.5 (note, it is 2.5 for state associations vs. 3.5 for restaurants) to calculate the PPP loan amount, are:
The Start Date Benefits Smaller Organizations and Community Financial Institutions: Mid-January is the expected start date. For the first two days, at minimum, the SBA is accepting PPP loan applications only from community financial institutions when the PPP loan portal reopens. There are targeted “set aside” funds for new and smaller borrowers, for borrowers in low- and moderate-income communities, and for community and smaller lenders, which include:
SBA also issued specific guidelines for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned employers. Among other steps, the agency plans to accept PPP loan applications only from certain lenders that focus on underserved and minority businesses and borrowers in distressed areas for at least the first two days of the program.
The SBA has not yet announced when it will begin taking applications that borrowers submit through lenders, but we expect the program to launch next week, beginning with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) as early as Monday, and other lenders as early as Wednesday. As soon as we receive official word on the program launch dates, we will share that information. Hospitality and tourism businesses/organizations considering a second draw of PPP are urged to contact their lenders and begin gathering the data and information necessary to complete the application process as soon as possible.
• 1/5/21 • Application Details on PPP Relief Funding Pending- As you know Congress and the President signed the latest round of PPP Relief Funding which now is available to 501-C6 and other destination marketing organizations. Although the details on how to apply for these funds has not been released at this time, we will notify our members as soon as this information becomes available. In the meantime, this information details some of what you need to know about how the PPP funds will work. Click here to read the full document.
Section 18: Eligibility of 501(c)(6) and Destination Marketing Organizations for Loans Under the Paycheck Protection Program.
Expands eligibility to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan to include the following organizations: 501(c)(6) organizations if:
• 12/28/20 • President Signs Covid-Relief Bill - How It Impacts Your Business- Late yesterday evening, President Trump reversed course and signed the Covid Relief bill that Congress passed with bi-partisan support last week. In partnership with the AHLA, we'd like to share a link to the analysis and to the new provisions contained in the legislation.
President Donald Trump has signed the coronavirus stimulus package and the annual spending bill into law, avoiding a looming government shutdown and securing relief for those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority in both chambers last week.
This short-term relief package is a vital step toward helping the hotel industry survive this ongoing crisis. The nearly $900 billion package contains many top priorities that AHLA aggressively lobbied for, including improvements from the previously passed CARES Act. To see how the new legislation compares, click here.
AHLA, OHLA and OTIA has spent months urging lawmakers to help the people and industries most affected by COVID-19. After more than 260,000 individual grassroots actions taken by AHLA members, as well as OHLA members, we are pleased to finally see a long-overdue agreement.
As the new year approaches, there will be more work to do and we look forward to working with the 117th Congress and the new Administration on a longer-term stimulus package that ensures our industry survives and is positioned to help lead a national economic recovery.
In the meantime, we appreciate all your support and engagement as well as the impactful work AHLA and its governmental affairs team has done, which was so critical in allowing us to achieve this important milestone.
• 12/22/20 • Congress Finally Provides Relief- Late yesterday, Congress finally passed legislation to help the economy that includes specific help for the hospitality industry. Although this bill will be helpful, it is just a down payment of further relief hopefully to come in 2021. Some of the highlights specific for our industry appear below. We worked with our national partners for many months to accomplish the passage of this relief package. The grassroots support from you to Oklahoma's Congressional Delegation was invaluable in stating our case for the need for relief. The bill is almost 6,000 pages long and is still being reviewed by our national partners. We do expect the funding will go fast, so as soon as we know more about the timelines and the application process we'll let you know.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL:
• 12/15/20 • Governor Stitt's Latest Executive Orders - At his press conference last week, Governor Stitt announced his new Emergency Executive Order would include additional mandates affecting the hospitality industry. The order will take effect on Monday, December 14 and includes the issues below which affect our industry. Read the Governor's new executive order here.
• 12/8/20 • MMGY Global Travel Insights Report - While news about potential vaccines is fueling a powerful sense of hope, we are still in the depths of extraordinarily difficult times. Fears over health and safety are pervasive, small businesses are shuttering, and uncertainty remains about what the next several months will look like. But what we can do is harness all those concerns by laying the groundwork based on our concrete knowledge. We saw a frenzy of travel bookings around Black Friday, spurred in part by flexible policies and steep discounts; DMOs are mobilizing their communities to bolster and revive local partners; and all across the globe, destinations and suppliers are optimizing their public health protocols and awareness campaigns. The sum of these actions is even greater than their parts, and together we will persevere and come out stronger than ever before. Get the latest research reports and our expert insights into how to navigate the next normal as it unfolds at MMGYGlobal.com/COVID-19. To view the full newsletter click here.
• 12/1/20 • Oklahoma Arts Council Relief Grant News Release - The Oklahoma Arts Council is pleased to announce that Governor J. Kevin Stitt has allocated $3 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support Oklahoma’s arts and cultural sector. The funding is being made available to organizations statewide beginning December 1 through Oklahoma Arts and Cultural Industry Relief Grants administered by the Oklahoma Arts Council ranging from $2,500 to $100,000. Click here to read the full news release.
• 11/11/20 • Tapping into Available Travel Demand Through Creative Innovation - There are emerging opportunities to create and realize travel demand through innovative approaches ranging from travel bubbles to new social-distancing venues. Join an Adara webinar on November 12 at 10am for a provocative session with former travel industry executive and now Associate Dean of Executive Education at the Kellogg School of Management, Tom O'Toole and Carolyn Corda, Chief Marketing Officer at ADARA to consider how developments emerging in higher education may offer insights and models applicable to travel. Register here!
• 11/9/20 • Legal Analysis of What to Expect in a President Biden Administration for Employers and Employees - It appears to be official: unless the election results can be overturned in several states, Joe Biden will soon be our nation’s 46th president. Now the work begins to forecast what the next four years will bring. Here are several predictions in 11 key areas.
• 11/9/20 • Let's Go There ToolKit - From November 16 - December 31, use the Let's Go There, Together toolkit to celebrate the joy that comes with traveling as a family and giving the gift of future memories to be made. Access the full kit by clicking here.
• 11/4/20 • 2020 Election Update- At this moment, the Presidential race and a number of key Congressional election contests are still undecided or too close to call. The race for the White House could drag on for days and possibly weeks, with legal challenges expected in closely contested states.
We expect that control of Congress will be divided, with Republicans likely maintaining control of the Senate, and Democrats holding the House with a slimmer majority. This scenario would create a system of checks and balances which could lead to bipartisan compromises on a number of key issues, most importantly on the issue of COVID relief for our industry.
We will continue to press Congressional leaders to reach a bipartisan, bicameral deal to provide additional relief and liquidity for the hotel industry, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Get the Latest Updates:
Live Presidential Race Results
Live Senate Race Results
Live House Race Results
Live Governors Race Results
• 11/2/20 • Digital 101: Programming Display- On November 4th at 8 am, join Sojern as they dive into the foundation of online advertising as we know it: programmatic display. In this webinar attendees will learn the ins and outs of how programmatic bidding works, what stages of the funnel to use prospecting and retargeting and how to measure success for your online marketing efforts. This webinar series is structured to give travel marketers the foundational knowledge needed to start driving more direct bookings. Register here!
• 10/28/20 • ORA Expo Postponed Until Aug 18-19 - After much deliberation, the ORA's Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 ORA Expo until next year, August 18-19, 2021. As you may know, OTIA co-sponsors the ORA Expo.
Everyone at the OTIA understands and appreciates the time, effort and resources that exhibitors have put into preparing for the Expo this year. Similarly, the ORA staff has been immersed in preparations, and we were looking forward to bringing hospitality together once again to provide connections for new products, education and professional engagement. Unfortunately, this year due to the continued spread of COVID-19, and the importance of health and well-being of those attending, we will not be able to deliver the ORA Expo experience you deserve.
As you already know, we are an incredibly resilient industry. We share your disappointment, but we are also energized by the possibility of new opportunities to gather again in August 2021.
• 10/6/20 • Another Successful Lt. Governor's Virtual Travel & Tourism Summits: Download PowerPoints & Recordings- We hope you enjoyed this year's Lt. Governor's Virtual Travel & Tourism Summits! We would like to thank our hosts and partners for another success. If you did not receive our previous email that included the PowerPoints and recordings from each summit, you will find these details listed below.
Thank you again! We look forwarding to seeing you next year!
• 10/19/20 • Carpe Data 2020 - 3 days, 17 sessions, 29 speakers, 765 minutes of insights from industry experts. Are you ready for ADARA Carpe Data 2020 from Oct 20-22? Click here to view and register a full list of speakers at this year's virtual conference.
• 10/9/20 • Register for the ORA Expo • December 2-3, 2020 - With the reopening of Oklahoma, restaurants are back in business and operators are searching for the latest and greatest to help build their success. The ORA Expo at OK State Fair Park in Oklahoma City is considered the best opportunity of the year for you to connect with other professionals, as well as food manufacturers and various suppliers who are eager to show off their best in hospitality products and services.
It is also known as Oklahoma's largest industry trade show and the most important of the year for foodservice and hospitality industry professionals, as it will offer exciting educational sessions, demonstrations, and networking! Easy access, convenient parking, and tons of ORA hospitality make this an event you don't want to miss! The ORA Expo is presented in partnership with the Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association and the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association.
For the health and safety of attendees and exhibitors, the ORA Expo Promise has been carefully designed and will be enforced to provide numerous health and safety measures for both attendees and exhibitors. Click here to view the Expo Promise.
Click these links or more information:
•Attend as a Buyer
•Attend as an Exhibitor
•Become an Expo Partner
• 10/4/20 • Destination Capitol Hill 2020 Canceled - In March, Destination Capitol Hill 2020 (DCH) was postponed following guidance of the Centers Disease Control and Prevention, hopeful for an opportunity to revisit this important event in person later this year. We are grateful to those of you who participated in Travel’s Virtual Hill Week in June, and made our voice heard while we couldn’t meet in person.
Unfortunately, the time has come to officially cancel our in-person event in 2020 due to ongoing group size restrictions in Washington, D.C. that would prohibit our delegation from convening. The DCH Registrar will be contacting all paid delegates to begin the refund process.
• 9/29/20 • The Recovery of Air Travel - Join us on Thursday, October 1st at 11am for a webinar regarding the recovery of air travel. The recovery of air travel is undeniably instrumental to the broader travel recovery. To delve into the current state of air travel, the updates that have been made to the air travel experience and where air travel is headed, our next series of Assessing Recovery webinars will focus on different elements of air travel recovery. Register here!
• 9/25/20 • U.S. Travel: Weekly Data Report - The U.S. Travel sent out an analysis by Tourism Economics that shows a week by week outlook on travel spending in the U.S, as well as multiple registration opportunities for upcoming webinars. Click here to view the full report.
• 9/21/20 • TAKE ACTION NOW! Urge Congressional Action on Small Business Relief Package - Send a message to your members of Congress urging them to take immediate action on a relief bill that protects small travel industry businesses and workers!
• 9/16/20 • Optimize Funds and Build Accessible Landing Pages - Building an accessible landing page is essential as we look to accommodate the aging Baby Boomer generation and continue to support those in our community that identify as having a disability—15% according to the CDC. Join the U.S. Travel Association on September 24th at 1pm for this webinar. An accessible landing page is crucial to ensuring your travel business or destination is inclusive and welcoming. Register here.
• 9/9/20 • Let's Go There - Please take just two minutes to send an action alert to your Senators by no later than 10 a.m. tomorrow.
New data from the U.S. Travel Association underscores how a nationwide economic recovery will not be possible until Congress prioritizes emergency relief legislation for all segments of the travel industry. $360 billion — or $2 billion per day — has been drained from the overall U.S. economy since March as a result of decreased travel demand due to the pandemic, according to research prepared by Tourism Economics. To restore these lost jobs and spur an economic recovery, U.S. Travel is calling on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass its newly introduced relief bill, which includes the enhancement and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program to provide critical aid to destination marketing organizations.
• 9/2/20 • Let's Go There - The Let’s Go There campaign will officially launch on Tuesday, September 8, to inspire Americans to do what is exciting and productive: make plans to travel! Whether you're ready to welcome visitors today or waiting until the next phase of your state's reopening, everyone in the travel industry is encouraged to join this national conversation to reignite America’s sense of wanderlust and reinstate the feeling of anticipation. Learn more.
• 8/31/20 • U.S. Travel: Weekly Data Report - The U.S. Travel has sent out an analysis by Tourism Economics that shows a week by week outlook on travel spending in the U.S, as well as multiple registration opportunities for upcoming webinars. Click here to view the full report.
• 8/26/20 • U.S. Travel: Weekly Data Report - The U.S. Travel has sent out an analysis by Tourism Economics that shows a week by week outlook on travel spending in the U.S, as well as multiple registration opportunities for upcoming webinars. Click here to view the full report.
• 8/24/20 • Using Facebook & Instagram to Fuel Recovery - Regardless of what stage we are in, social media is a key to your success during recovery. On Wednesday, August 26th at 11am, Facebook joins Sojern to talk about how travel marketers can use Facebook and Instagram to drive engagement and bookings. Register here.
• 8/21/20 • Take Action Now - We are still urgently requesting travel advocates to ask their representative and senators to immediately extend and expand the Paycheck Protection Program, and consider other policy proposals meaningful to the entire travel industry, in any moving legislative vehicle. Please take two minutes to help make our voice heard!
• 8/21/20 • State Approved for $300 Subsidy to Unemployment Benefits - Oklahoma recently applied to the federal government for permission to subsidize regular unemployment insurance payments with an additional $300 per week. It has now been reported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state's application.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) reports it will be at least a month before this additional benefit will be available for actual dispersal to unemployed Oklahomans but will be retroactive on August 1st. The OESC states the delay in implementing the extra benefit is due to the outdated computer system they are working with. OTIA will share additional information with you as it becomes available.
• 8/14/20 • Relief Package Remains Stalled - Negotiations on the next relief package remain stalled and it is likely that Congress won’t return to vote on a relief package before September. We must continue to call on Congress and the administration to act quickly!
On Tuesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a policy update with information for those navigating the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness process. Information is now available that:
• 8/14/20 • FY2021 Conus Per Diem Rate- The General Services Administration (GSA) released the FY2021 per diem rates for government travel which reflect pre-COVID-19 rates. The move to hold per diem rates is a big victory for the hospitality industry! AHLA actively engaged with the GSA and sounded the alarm about the negative impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on hotel occupancy, rates and government travel.
The FY2021 CONUS per diem rate is $151:
Oklahoma specific rates are as follows, but you can access the full release of rates here.
Because of AHLA efforts, in partnership with the Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association and other Partner State Associations and the efforts from you, our members, GSA has adjusted the FY21 data window for rate setting by one month (i.e. March 2019 through February 2020 in lieu of the standard April 2019 through March 2020) to not negatively depress FY21 rates due to COVID-19.
• 8/14/20 • Updated Guidelines from Oklahoma State Health Department - Yesterday, Interim Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye issued updated guidelines in the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines are recommendations for best practices in curtailing the spread. You can view the guidelines here.
• 8/12/20 • Webinar: Funding Futures - Join the U.S. Travel Association on August 20th at 1pm as we summarize the findings and recommendations from "Funding Futures", a study focused on the future of tourism and DMO funding following the significant impacts from the COVID-19 crisis on the industry. Register here!
• 8/7/20 • Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn - Please join us as we host a hospitality industry Zoom meeting with Congresswoman Kendra Horn next Monday on August 10th at 10:30 a.m. (CDT). Congresswoman Horn will update us on efforts in Washington D.C. to provide relief and recovery to our industry. If participants would like to submit questions in advance, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to register for the Town Hall Meeting.
• 8/5/20 • ACTIVATING ON CARES 2.0 - Senate Republicans released their draft coronavirus relief bill last week, called the HEALS Act, but negotiations are moving slowly. Democrats and Republicans have yet come to come to an agreement. On Friday, the supplemental $600/week in unemployment aid provided by the CARES Act expired (although regular unemployment benefits remain intact). If Congress does not act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will also expire this Saturday, August 8.
We must keep the relief, protection and stimulus needs of the travel industry top of mind as Congress works toward a final bill. To make activating as simple as possible, please visit and bookmark our new advocacy toolkit, which includes the latest asks, action alerts and ways to engage as the final bill comes together. We have updated the toolkit with a new social media guide and sample op-ed and will continue to add resources. Act Now!
• 8/3/20 • Upcoming webinar: The Practice of Resilence - On Thursday, August 6 at 1pm, Matthew Landkamer of Coraggio Group will explore four key practices of resilience and how they apply at both the organizational and individual levels for destination leaders. He will also explain how to integrate this into your planning process, setting you and your organization up to be both strong and flexible in the face of future challenges. Register here.
• 7/31/20 • Two Minutes of Your Time: Act Now! - The HEALS Act (included below): While we are certainly thrilled about the inclusion of DMOs in the PPP in this bill, our work is not over until this legislation passes the Senate and the House and is signed by the president. We anticipate all of this will happen within the next two weeks, so we must act now.
There are a couple of actions you can take, including thanking Senate leadership for their inclusion of DMOs in the PPP and encouraging the rest of the Senate to support these provisions in the final legislative text. We hope you are familiar with how easy this system is—you can do this in just two minutes. Act Now!
• 7/27/20 • Travel CEOs Urge Federal Action on COVID-19 Testing
- Fourteen CEOs of America’s most recognizable travel-related companies sent a letter to the president and congressional leaders today 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 TEST Act that has been introduced in the Senate.
• 7/22/20 • Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index - Recently Destination Analysts provided a webinar on findings from the week of July 12th, as well as a full Destination Analysts on 19 weeks of travel data. You can view the full presentation here. Below are a list of facts from the session:
• 7/22/20 • U.S. Travel: Weekly Data: COVID-19 Response - The U.S. Travel has sent out an analysis by Tourism Economics that shows a week by week outlook on travel spending in the U.S, as well as multiple registration opportunities for upcoming webinars. Click here to view the full report regarding the U.S. Travel Association's response to COVID-19.
• 7/22/20 • OK Here we Go Campaign Update - This campaign has kept us 14th nationally in hotel room booked during Covid-19. While not Top 10, it's going considerably well. We certainly have more momentum than other states and will stay aggressive on staycations and the message that "when you travel Oklahoma, you strengthen Oklahoma." Click here to learn more details about the campaign, and please help us drive this message home!
• 7/20/20 • Updated Industry Priorities - On Friday, the U.S. Travel Association shared with congressional leadership an updated policy priorities for Phase 4 legislation as negotiations continue in earnest. Congress returned to Washington today and we anticipate that a draft bill will be released later this week.
In summary, it has been requested that they:
• 7/20/20 • Free 'Masks Required' Sign for You to Utilize - As an OTIA member resource, and in light of masks mandated around the state of Oklahoma, we would like to provide a free downloadable "Masks Required" sign for you to print and post at your businesses entrance.
• 7/17/20 • Oklahoma City Council Votes In Favor of Mandated Masks - Mayor David Holt of OKC signed a face mask ordinance into effect, after the Oklahoma City Council voted 6-3 on Friday, July 17th in favor of the order. It was then voted 7-3 to become effective immediately. Citizens are required to wear a face covering or face shield over both their nose and mouth when inside a commercial business or other structure, building or space open to the public. Masks will also be required in an outdoor space when unable to social distance staying 6 feet apart unless they are from the same household. Exemptions apply to those 10 years and younger, those individuals with developmental disabilities, the deaf or those who are hard of hearing. Non-compliance penalties will be enforced.
The full ordinance for Oklahoma City will be released soon. OH&LA will continue to keep you informed as information is available. If you have questions regarding the ordinance, feel free to contact us.
• 7/15/20 • Take Action on S.3992- S.3992 would ensure all categories of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. In order to advance this bill, we must build cosponsors. We’re asking you to take action now by writing and calling your senators to urge them to cosponsor this bill. The Senate is negotiating the next phase of coronavirus response legislation and is expected to release a bill this week, making our timing critical if we are to include these measures in broader relief legislation. Take Action!
• 7/15/20 • Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index - Recently Destination Analysts provided a webinar on findings from the week of July 12th, as well as a full Destination Analysts on 18 weeks of travel data. You can view the full presentation here.
• 7/14/20 • Business Sign Kit & Free COVID-19 Testing - The Oklahoma Health Department has provided free COVID-19 business signage for you to utilize. These signs can be displayed around your business to help remind customers to remain cautious, social distance and provide direction for entrances, elevators and break rooms. These can be downloaded, printed or shared and are available in both English and Spanish format.
Each county health department also provides free COVID-19 tests for the general public, so you can be tested as often as necessary. They're offered once per week, every other week. Find out more details by contacting the county health department in your area. Letters can also be provided if your employer needs proof that you've been tested.
• 7/14/20 • Paycheck Protection Program Extended to Aug 8 - The SBA's Paycheck Protection Program began accepting new applications on July 6th and will continue to accept applications through August 8th. If you have not previously received a PPP loan, you are encouraged to speak to your lender and determine if a loan is appropriate for your business. The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. To apply, click here.
• 7/6/20 • New City Emergency Proclamations: COVID-19 Guidance -
Multiple cities have released updated Emergency Proclamations. The ORA has continued to remain instrumental in providing input to state officials in order to help keep our businesses open and safe. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
Below are several emergency proclamations and executive orders based on city health departments and city mayors. We will include more as they are released:
*Note: This is the most up-to-date information available at the time this email was sent. Some information may have changed since then, so we encourage you to check other sources as well.
• 7/1/20 • Mayor David Holt Announces Restrictions on OKC Restaurants and Bars - Mayor David Holt released new mandates for restaurants, bars and theatre-style venues in an attempt to limit people’s exposure to COVID-19. Beginning this Friday, July 3rd, for the next 14 days, all employees of restaurants and bars must wear masks. The capacity at bars will be lowered to 50% to prevent further spread. Mayor Holt also stated that all venues with theater-style seating, such as weddings, funerals and churches must have staggered seating with two seats in between each seat. Find out more about the mandates here.
• 7/1/20 • Employer Responsibilities Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) - As restaurants reopen and are experiencing employees affected by Covid-19 now is a good time to revisit employer responsibilities for helping those employees. You can read this article on FAQ's about the FFCRA here.
• 6/29/20 • Let's Do Our Part - U.S. Travel Reacts to EU Travel Ban
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement in response to the formal announcement that the European Union will still exclude travelers from the U.S. as it opens its borders:
"The E.U.'s announcement is incredibly disappointing, and a step in the wrong direction as we seek to rebuild our global economy. We are at a stage when it should be possible to make progress. This is unwelcome news, and will have major negative implications for an economic recovery, particularly if this ban results in cycles of retaliation, as is so often the case."
• 6/29/20 • FAQs for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) - The U.S. Department of Treasury issued new FAQs for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), which clarify that state and local governments may use CRF funds for expenses to re-market convention facilities and the tourism industry. Click here to view.
• 6/29/20 • Upcoming Webinar: Unmasking the Power of AI - On July 1st at 9am CDT, Adara will be hosting a webinar regarding customer data and identity. They will dive into how AI can help drive your travel marketing efforts. Click here to register.
• 6/24/20 • Let's Do Our Part - In response to the updated public health advisory from the Oklahoma Department of Health, we have provided updated guidance for industry members. As case numbers continue to rise, it is essential that we do all that we can to keep our employees and guests safe. Additionally, we want to strongly caution everyone to abide by statewide orders and local regulations. While many are following the rules, we know that some are not. At a press conference yesterday, David Holt encouraged that masks be worn when out in public and social distancing needs to be continued.
• 6/24/20 • Upcoming Webinar - On June 26 at 9:30am, the U.S. Travel Association National Chair and Destination DC President and CEO Elliott Ferguson will lead a discussion regarding a previous webinar with several leaders from the black community on race and racism in the travel industry, who shared their experiences and insights on how we can make meaningful changes in the workplace to promote racial equality at all levels. Click here to register.
• 6/24/20 • Oklahoma Business Relief Program - The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is allocating $50 million from the Federal CARES Act to provide Oklahoma businesses much needed financial assistance. The application period begins on Monday, June 29 and goes through July 10. This is a first-come, first served basis and funds will be provided to the business through financial institutions who choose to participate; At least 20% of the program funds will be designated for minority owned businesses. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has released additional details on this program. The details can be found here.
• 6/23/20 • President Proclamation - President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, "Suspending Entry of Aliens who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak." This executive action extends foreign worker restrictions put in place on April 22 through the end of the year. The order impacts H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visas, equating to more than 500,000 legal guest workers (according to the White House). Certain exemptions have been allowed under the order, including for H-2B workers employed in our nation's food supply.
Unfortunately, this executive order will have a profound impact on many OH&LA members who rely on seasonal, legal guest workers to augment their domestic workforce during peak season. Now is the worst possible time to prevent hotels from operating at full capacity.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, which co-chairs the H-2B Workforce Coalition, continues to work closely with our allies on Capitol Hill and in the Administration to determine what can be done to allow seasonal workers at a time they are needed most. With no change, this Executive action could significantly delay the economic recovery in the hotel and hospitality sector.
• 6/23/20 • #TravelConfidently Toolkit - Four in 10 Americans are still feeling uncertain about traveling, and 63% are looking for enhanced cleaning protocols when they decide to take a trip. When we all do our part, we can all #travelconfidently. Click here for free toolkit to communicate industry-wide health and safety guidelines to your travelers.
• 6/22/20 • S. 3992 Bill - Senators Cruz (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL) and Scott (R-SC) have officially introduced S. 3992, a bill to expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to DMOs of all statuses who have 300 or fewer employees. Providing economic relief to DMOs is vital for our industry and the broader U.S. economy and has been a top priority of ours since the CARES Act was first passed.
• 6/22/20 • U.S. Travel: Weekly Data Report - The U.S. Travel has sent out an analysis by Tourism Economics that shows a week by week outlook on travel spending in the U.S, as well as multiple registration opportunities for upcoming webinars. Click here to view the full report.
• 6/22/20 ESTO 2020 Has Been Canceled - Unfortunately ESTO 2020 has been cancelled, a difficult but necessary response to the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance of Michigan public health authorities prohibits large public gatherings. All paid registrations for 2020 will be refunded in full and will be processed within 90 days. If you have any questions regarding the refund process, please contact email@example.com.
• 5/27/20 • Liability Protection - One of the requests made by the ORA, OH&LA & OTIA to the state legislature was some protection from frivolous lawsuits related to alleged exposure to COVID-19 in your business. The legislature listened to our concerns and passed SB 1946 to provide that protection. It was signed by the Governor and is now law. You can read the text of the bill here.
• 5/27/20 • Preparing for the Return of In-Person Meetings - With partners from across the broader travel, health and safety communities, Meetings Mean Business aligned on six key principles for reopening, based on recent guidance from the U.S. Travel Association. Click here to read the reopening principals.
• 5/20/20 • Oklahoma's Recovery from COVID-19: Introducing the Daily Travel Index - We hope you enjoyed this morning's webinar. Arrivalist, in cooperation with Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, shared the latest research and travel patterns facing our industry. Click here to view a recording from today's webinar. Arrivalist also provided us with the slideshows, if you were unable to attend. Click here to view.
• 5/13/20 • House Unveils Next Relief Bill - House Democrats unveiled their draft of the next round of coronavirus relief legislation, a $3 trillion package with a number of notable provisions for our industry. Summaries can be found here and here. While we expect the final bill to look substantially different, we are pleased with the show of support for our industry. Most notably, the bill expands eligibility of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to 501(c) nonprofit organizations, a development that U.S. Travel has extensively advocated for in order to provide additional support to DMOs. In addition, the bill enhances the PPP by:
• 5/13/20 • COVID-19 Disaster Relief Grants for OKC Small Businesses - Businesses with five or fewer employees located within designated Urban Renewal Areas may apply for a grant on the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority (OCURA) website for up to $10,000. The Oklahoma City Council voted to approve the $400,000 program which will provide funds for disaster relief to some of the smallest local businesses in low or moderate income areas. Click here to learn more.
• 5/11/20 • More Trade Groups Ask For Liability Protections - Countless airlines, amusement parks, casinos, hotels, movie theaters and restaurants are among the industries pushing for liability protections. The American Hotel & Lodging Association, Airlines for America, the American Gaming Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the National Association of Theatre Owners, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the U.S. Travel Association and dozens of other trade groups sent a letter to lawmakers this morning urging them to include such protections in the next coronavirus relief bill. Click here to view the Liability Sign-On Letter. The American Association for Justice — which represents trial lawyers — and a coalition of unions and consumer groups have been fighting the proposals. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the matter this Tuesday. We will keep you updated once we learn more.
• 5/7/20 • Call to Action: H.R. 6697 PPP Bill - Reps. Pappas (D-NH), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Cisneros (D-CA) and Steube (R-FL) introduced H.R. 6697, the "Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act of 2020," which would allow all types of destination marketing organizations including both 501(c)(6) and quasi-governmental entities with less than 300 employees eligibility into the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill is an important first step as Congress begins to negotiate that next relief package, but with your help, we can have an even bigger impact. Please contact your representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 6697.
• 5/4/20 • Happy National Travel & Tourism Week! - Join your travel colleagues for a #VirtualRoadTrip on May 5th across America, highlighting the destinations, small businesses and attractions that make up America’s Spirit of Travel to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week! Click here to view the full schedule.
• 5/4/20 • Travel is the New Normal - The U.S. travel industry submitted to the White House and governors a document containing detailed guidance for travel-related businesses to help keep their customers and employees safe as the country emerges from the pandemic. It describes vigorous measures the industry will follow to reduce the risk of spread. The goal: to allow travel to safely resume as states and municipalities relax physical distancing guidance. Click here to read the full guidance.
• 4/21/20 • Zoom Meeting with Congressman Kevin Hern: Friday April 24 - Please join us as we host a zoom meeting with OK First District Congressman Kevin Hern on Friday, April 24th at 9:00 a.m. (CDT). As many of you know, Congressman Hern is also a restaurateur and a long-time franchisee of McDonald's. Congressman Hern will bring a restaurant perspective and provide information on further steps Congress is taking to help us. Click here to join the meeting.
• 4/17/20 • Travel Data Resources - Following the issuance of guidance from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Department of the Treasury, six CARES Act relief resources have been updated:
• 4/10/20 • Important U.S. Travel Association Update - The U.S. Travel Association sent Congress a series of technical corrections and enhancements to the CARES Act to help ensure businesses and workers in the broader travel and tourism industry have access to additional relief in future packages. They also sent several letters to Congressional leadership, including a letter signed by more than 600 DMOs and CVBs requesting inclusion in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in upcoming relief packages. There was also a webinar that you can view here answering specific questions about access to provisions within the CARES Act for 501(c) nonprofits and local travel-related quasi-government organizations.
• 4/5/20 • The Daily Travel Index - As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, we have repeatedly heard two questions from the Travel & Tourism Industry community:
To help answer these questions, here is a free tool for the travel industry, the Daily Travel Index. It measures consumer road trips of 50 miles or more by residents and more heavily focuses on the the DTI of drive markets. This will give marketers a daily indication of when travel activity stabilizes and, most importantly, begin to recover since the fly markets are more likely to follow the drive markets after the pandemic passes.
• 4/3/20 • U.S. Travel Association: 501 (c) Document & Other Resources - The U.S. Travel Association created a Relief Resources page, including a quick guide to eligibility that outlines exactly what funding programs are available to you. If you are a 501(c)(6) organization, here is a document that should be helpful in understanding what 501(c)(6) organizations are able to access.
• 4/3/20 • Economic Impact: A Weekly Analysis - New analysis by Tourism Economics shows a weekly outlook on travel spending, as well as a state breakdown. National weekly travel spending dropped to just $3.8 billion last week, down from $19.8 billion during the first week of March.
• 4/2/20 • Webinar Recap: Destinations Analyst - Earlier this week Destination Analysts put together a webinar regarding the Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index. Here is a recap of how travel sentiment has changed over the past three weeks.