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Senator Hassan Holds Roundtable with Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leaders on the Impact of COVID-19

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan held a roundtable this week with New Hampshire tourism and hospitality leaders about the challenges their industry is facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the July 4th weekend.


Senator Hassan is focused on supporting the tourism and hospitality industry, one of New Hampshire’s largest economic drivers, during this difficult time. The Senate this week unanimously extended the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program for employers, and the Senator in April voted in favor of bipartisan legislation to significantly bolster funding for programs that support small businesses in New Hampshire, including the Paycheck Protection Program. Senator Hassan also cosponsored the Great American Outdoors Act, which recently passed the Senate and would help preserve and maintain public lands, including the White Mountain National Forest – which is a major source of tourism for New Hampshire.  


See below for coverage highlights:


The Union Leader: Travel, tourism hope for busiest weekend yet; AAA predicts 38.9 million trips this summer

By: Jonathan Phelps


Heading into the July 4 weekend, tourism officials across the Granite State expect it to be the busiest in months, now that the state has eased pandemic precautions.


But many attractions and businesses are struggling to overcome the decrease in sales, which typically start much earlier in the year.


“It looks to me that the July 4 weekend will be the busiest weekend that we’ve had since starting to reopen, at least based on the input I am getting from businesses,” said Christopher Bellis, owner of the Cranmore Inn in North Conway and president of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce during a video call hosted by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan on Monday. “It looks like they are filling up.”


[…] Hassan sought input from the business leaders as Congress works on a fourth major coronavirus relief package.


“We depend so heavily in New Hampshire on travel and tourism as an essential part of our economy, but also essential to our quality of life,” she said.


AAA forecasts New Englanders will take 38.9 million trips this summer based on economic indicators and state reopenings. That number is down nearly 13.9% compared to last July through September and is the first decline in summer travel since 2009, according to a news release Monday.


[…] Amy Landers, executive director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association, said more attractions and museums opened this week.


Access to the lakes has been tough for some to get with reservations being booked weeks in advance.


“A lot of our public beaches the towns are turning to residents only, which I can understand. They need to take care of their tax paying residents,” Landers said. “But for the visitors we are finding it is getting more difficult to get access to the lakes.”


Landers is pushing for schools across the state to start after Labor Day.


“This is the year to mandate that, because our businesses need that extra week and a half to make money this year,” she said. “That would be a great win for our economy to get back in place for this fall.”


The Conway Daily Sun: Tourism leaders raise pandemic business concerns with Hassan

By: Tom Eastman


On the eve of the Independence Day weekend, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) heard from state tourism representatives about the impacts of the coronavirus and state guidelines on their business in an hourlong conference call Zoom meeting held from her office in the nation’s capital Monday afternoon.


Among those invited to speak with Hassan were Christopher Bellis, owner of the Cranmore Inn in North Conway and president of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Charyl Reardon, president of White Mountains Attractions Association of North Woodstock, which represents 17 attractions in the region, including the Conway Scenic Railroad, Cranmore Mountain, Attitash and Wildcat, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center and Story Land in Mount Washington Valley.


Hassan, a former two-term New Hampshire governor, hosted the meeting because she recognizes that tourism is one of the Granite State’s largest economic drivers.


After the meeting, she issued the following statement on her Twitter account Tuesday:


“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit travel and tourism businesses hard. Thank you to the industry leaders who met with me yesterday. I’ll continue to support your businesses and workers as we work to keep communities safe.”


In her wrap, she told participants she will push for a “meaningful flexible relief package,” noting it will be Congress’ fourth in addressing the pandemic this year. Hassan said she would also lobby for aid to state and local government so they will not have to lay off employees. […]


Caledonian Record: Roundtable: Tourism Perks Up During Pandemic

By: Paul Hayes


Tourism in the North Country has picked up.


That’s the message Cheryl Reardon, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, delivered to Sen. Maggie Hassan on Monday during a roundtable discussion on tourism and hospitality.


“The White Mountains have always been very fortunate, people just flock here generally,” said Reardon.


“So we’ve seen quite a few visitors over the last couple of months, even with the stay-at-home restrictions that have been in place here in New Hampshire and across New England. [And] as things have started to ease up, we’ve certainly seen a lot more [day and overnight trips].”


[…] However, the state’s economic re-opening has accelerated since New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order expired on June 15. That has created a supply crunch for personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. Reardon suggested the state create a direct sale program, to provide those supplies to the hospitality and tourism industry, as it did for the hospitals and medical facilities at the onset of the pandemic.


Hassan said a national strategy for PPE distribution is under discussion.


Reardon also expressed concern about business vulnerability for lawsuits, in the event visitors contract COVID-19.


Although nothing has been codified in law, Hassan said businesses that follow CDC guidelines should be protected from negligence lawsuits […]


Granite State News Collaborative: NH tourism industry leaders worry they won’t have enough workers, PPE for the season

By: Emily Duggan


New Hampshire tourism and hospitality industry leaders scrambled to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic by adding signs that enforce healthy habits and requiring reservations to attend the many points of interest that the state has to offer.


But as the Fourth of July weekend approaches, some leaders in the tourism industry are worried about balancing the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), finding enough employees to work throughout the summer and maintaining a profit with their businesses.


Several brought up the concerns to New Hampshire Congressional Senator, Maggie Hassan, as she hosted a webinar Monday afternoon, gathering the feedback to bring back to Washington D.C. with her.


As of June 26, the state had 92,132 continuing unemployment claims. When it comes to the tourism industry in New Hampshire, one of the challenges caused by the pandemic will be securing seasonal workers who rely on J-1 work and travel visas to work in the state.


Charlie St. Clair, the executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week Association said that not having J-1 workers will be a “hardship,” as many businesses in the area have relied on international workers for the past 20 years to meet the seasonal job needs of the summer months.


[…] The New Hampshire tourism industry is a $5.5 billion industry, according to Business New Hampshire Magazine. So far, tourism leaders have not been able to predict the amount of visitors that the state will bring in.


[…] Moving forward, Landers suggested delaying the opening of schools in New Hampshire until after Labor Day, so the tourism industry could get one more week of business before the winter months.


“Businesses are worried about the winter after all this lost time – they need to pay mortgages and taxes,” Landers said. “We are fearful about after Labor Day.”