Efforts to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 have increased in recent months, with states beginning to lift lockdown restrictions to allow for the reopening of nonessential businesses. Though these efforts have helped greatly in spurring an economic upturn, one industry has taken a hit that’s been especially difficult for local and state governments to deal with.
Tourism is a vital economic sector for hot destinations across the nation, San Diego being one of the biggest among them. It’s the second-largest segment of our local economy, employing approximately 194,000 people and bringing in nearly $150 billion in revenue last year alone. The damage COVID-19 has caused is evident—tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and revenue needed to provide basic services to our city has sharply declined.
Recently, Senator Martha McSally introduced the “American Tax Rebate and Incentive Program Act,” or the “American TRIP Act” for short. The bill would create a temporary, non-refundable tax credit for travel, lodging, entertainment, and other expenses in hopes of stimulating the tourism economy.
“If passed, joint filers could receive a yearly tax credit of $8,000 ($4,000 for individuals), as well as an additional $500 for dependent children for tax years 2020, 2021, and 2022,” said San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate. “The bill provides $50 million for Destination Marketing Organizations to promote travel and tourism nationwide.”
“San Diego is the nation’s eighth largest city and is an extremely popular tourist destination year-round. The tourism economy was booming prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cate noted. “Today, passenger traffic at San Diego’s airport is down 95 percent as the airport is seeing record lows in flights, hotel stays, consumer spending, and more.”
This drastic decline in tourism has affected several industries that rely on visitors from out of town. The American TRIP Act would encourage tourism and commerce in a manner that does not rely on tax hikes or subsidies, which are all too often the default policy prescriptions.
“As Chair of the City of San Diego’s Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee, I am committed to ensuring that the City of San Diego is on its way to economic recovery and, if passed, the American TRIP Act would be an important piece to that puzzle,” Cate concluded.