Va. restaurant, hospitality industry seeks $270M+ in relief funding
State association requests share of state's $3.76B American Rescue Plan funding
Hard hit by the pandemic, Virginia’s restaurant and hospitality industry is asking the General Assembly to dedicate more than $270 million from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan dollars to assist hotels, restaurants and other hospitality-related industries.
In a letter sent Tuesday to members of the state legislature’s money committees, the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association requested that the General Assembly allocate $273.35 million from the Virginia state government’s $3.76 billion share of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
“Supporting these organizations with additional funding will ensure that more businesses survive, that workers stay employed, and that tourism across the commonwealth rebounds more quickly,” VRLTA President Eric Terry said in the April 6 letter addressed to House Appropriations Committee Chair Del. Luke Torian and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Janet Howell.
Signed into law by Biden on March 11, the federal plan stipulates that 25% of American Rescue Plan funding should be allocated to assist states and communities “that have suffered economic injury as a result of job and gross domestic product losses in the travel, tourism, or outdoor recreation sectors.”
Virginia and its localities are receiving about $6.9 billion from the American Rescue Plan, which includes extending expanded unemployment benefits through Labor Day, $1,400 relief checks to individuals, and grants for small businesses.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Virginia and its localities to alleviate the economic losses sustained through the pandemic in the hospitality and tourism industries,” reads a statement from the association.
Tourism accounts for $27 billion in annual revenue in the commonwealth. Restaurants brought in more than $18 billion in revenue for 2018 and lodging accounted for roughly $6 billion in the state in 2019. The state association estimates that collectively the industries lost $14.8 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic, with tourism alone losing $10 billion.
In the April 6 letter, the association is requesting the following relief funding:
- $184.7 million for hotels and other lodging establishments
- $36.7 million for restaurants
- $20 million for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
- $10 million for tourist attractions
- $12.25 million for tourism entities
- $2 million for campgrounds
- $4.7 million for wedding venues
- $1.5 million for convention centers
- $1.5 million for job training for restaurant and lodging employees seeking jobs or improve skills
“You got a $27 billion industry that needs help, and we would do that for any other industry, I think,” Terry said in an interview with Virginia Business.