Santa Cruz County moves to the Orange Tier.

The Travel Forecast

January 6, 2021

$900 Billion Relief Package to Assist Travel Industry, Small Businesses

On Monday evening, December 21st, congressional leaders reached a deal and Congress passed a nearly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. The President signed the bill the following day, which includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, providing loans to businesses to help keep their workforce employed amid the coronavirus crisis. Economists interviewed by The Washington Post noted that the package should be “large enough to prevent the economy from backsliding further in the coming months. By that time, vaccines should be more widespread, enabling the hard-hit restaurant and travel sectors to begin a robust recovery.” As the U.S. Travel Association points out, while many components of the legislation impact travel, a few are of particular importance to the industry.  Benefits for small businesses are also addressed. Here are the highlights:

Of particular importance for local businesses, $284 billion has been earmarked for first and second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses that have 300 employees or fewer. Additional PPP expenses now include: certain supplier costs, damage due to public disturbances not covered by insurance, worker protection expenditures, such as PPE, software and computing needs, Simplified Forgiveness for loans under $150,000 and other benefits.

Click here to read more about how the bill will address continuing the Paycheck Protection Program and other ways it will support small businesses. 

For the tourism industry at large, the following components are outlined in the legislation:

  • PPP Eligibility for DMOs: Expands PPP eligibility to both nonprofit and quasi-governmental destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with 300 employees or less (full time and part-time combined).
    • $35 billion is set aside for first-time PPP loan recipients.
  • The second round of PPP loans: Businesses with 300 employees or less and a 25% decline in revenue in any quarter in 2020 may receive a second PPP loan of up to $2 million.
  • Extension to use Coronavirus Relief Funds until December 31, 2021.
  • $15 billion in grants to concert venues, performing art centers, theaters, and museums with 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and at least a 25% decline in revenue, among other qualifications.
  • Extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit through July 1, 2021.
  • $2 billion in grants for airports and airport concessionaires: Including $1.75 billion in grants for commercial service airports and $200 million for airport concessionaire relief.
  • Full deductibility of business meal expenses incurred in 2021 and 2022.

Click here to read a summary of the travel and tourism-related benefits of the bill provided by the U.S. Travel Association. 

In anticipation of questions about what is provided in the legislation, how to access relief and when funds will be made available – and to help those in the industry navigate the process, USTA is hosting a free webinar on January 7, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. PST. Their government relations team will walk attendees through the package at that time and answer questions. Click here to register

Independent Restaurant Coalition Responds to Stimulus Bill

As a result of lobbying efforts by the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), Congressional passage of the COVID-19 relief package provides a short bridge for independent restaurants and bars in 2021 thanks to key changes that were made to the program. Expanding applicable costs for PPP to include PPE and supplies, providing new ways for small businesses to access loans through community development financial institutions (CDFI) rather than banks, and other items outlined in the 2020 Omnibus Bill will help the hospitality industry keep their doors open and fully employ their teams in 2021. The IRC has produced an in-depth explainer and FAQ here for more information about the bill. Highlights are as follows: 

  • The restaurant and hospitality industries may receive loans of up to 3.5X average monthly payroll costs, compared to 2.5X for other industries.
  • The new PPP also has an expanded list of eligible expenses, including: 
  • Mortgage, rent, and utility payments
  • Operations expenditures
  • Property damage costs
  • Supplier costs
  • Worker protection expenditures
  • There are a few set-asides intended to help smaller, independent businesses including a $15B PPP set-aside for lending through CDFIs and other community-based lenders that will help expand access, and for very small businesses of 10 or fewer employees.
  • Operators can use the funds for any period between 8 and 24 weeks.
  • For loans less than $150,000, a business may submit a certification attesting that the entity meets the revenue loss requirements on or before the date the entity submits their loan forgiveness application.
  • The bill permits certain EIDL borrowers to also apply for a PPP loan.
  • New rules exclude publicly traded companies from PPP eligibility.
  • The proposal ensures applicants cannot be held liable if they didn’t understand they had recourse against them at the time they took the PPP and EIDL loans after a refinancing.

Have a question about what this new bill means for your business? Ask it here. The IRC is working with the James Beard Foundation on a webinar to help operators understand and navigate the updates to the PPP, whether you’re applying for the first time or looking for a second round. Stay tuned! 

Santa Cruz County to be Represented Virtually at 2021 International Media Marketplace

Visit Santa Cruz County hotels, and partner attractions, restaurants, retail shops and other local businesses will be represented at the 2021 International Media Marketplace (IMM) being hosted virtually January 27 – 29. This multi-day event is a keystone of VSCC’s year-around public relations program, enabling one-on-one appointments with domestic and international press outlets and journalists to share story ideas and destination assets. Usually part of Visit California’s New York Media Mission and taking place during the New York Times Travel Show, this year’s IMM will be a streamlined event and taken online due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Christina Glynn, VSCC Communications Director will join representatives from thirty-seven destinations from throughout California participating in a series of 24 pre-scheduled virtual appointments, which provide valuable one-on-one time with editors, journalists, freelance writers, and broadcasters in the largest media market in North America. The event will take place over three days to minimize screen fatigue. Virtual press conferences, networking opportunities, and an editors’ panel will round out the media marketplace event, concluding on the third day with a virtual networking reception. Visit California will be a major sponsor of 2021 IMM, as they have been over the past two years. Partnering with Visit California-sponsored media events provides VSCC with a cost-effective way to stretch its public relations budget to reach major metropolitan-area consumer, lifestyle, and travel media outlets. Increasing visitor awareness of Santa Cruz County through media exposure results in increased revenues to the county in the long-term. Do you have news about your hotel, restaurant, business, or attraction you’d like shared during IMM? Let us know about it! 

Additional Funding Available for Small Businesses

Small businesses and nonprofits harmed by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns can now apply for additional funding through a new state grant program, offered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Non-profits are also eligible for the $500 million in aid and the deadline to apply has been extended to Wednesday, January 13th. Grants are not offered on a first-come, first-served basis and range from $5,000 to $25,000. Click here to apply

Partner News

Welcome, Gail Smith, new Director of Sales at the Seacliff Inn Best Western.   Congrats to the Santa Cruz Dream Inn for earning the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s 2020 Sea Star Award for supporting Ocean Stewardship.  Watch a recording of the virtual award ceremony here! And Joanne Guzman, owner of Bruno’s Bar and Grill has been named Woman of the Year by the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce!  

ERC County Blueprint Status Report

The weekly County Blueprint Status Report related to COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County is available for the week of January 5th in English and Spanish. These updates are provided by the Economic Recovery Council of Santa Cruz County (ERC). Information from the ERC aligns with state and county health officials, Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and SAVE Lives Santa Cruz County.

Welcome New elected Officials

Congrats and welcome to the new civic leaders countywide: City of Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers and Vice Mayor (and former VSCC board member) Sonja Brunner, as well as City of Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra and the new Mayor of Scotts Valley Derek Timm!

Did you know……

that the Santa Cruz County Economic Recovery Council worked with Tam Communications and produced a Safety Video in English and Spanish to help local businesses maintain safety protocols during COVID while remaining operational? A version of the video is available for use on social media in .srt form, and a second version is available as an mp4 file.  Once downloaded, you can embed the video on your website, upload it to social media and YouTube, and add it to presentations!

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