by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 07, 2016
The American Hotel & Lodging Association and the U.S. Travel Association joined forces today, urging Congress to approve emergency funding immediately to address the increased threat of the Zika virus. Together, the two associaitons sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging swift action to help halt the spread of the virus spread and assist the agencies that are dealing with its impact. The letter was signed by 127 hotels, state tourism offices and other travel organizations.
"The health, safety, and security of our guests and employees is paramount to the hotel industry, as it should be to members of Congress," said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the AH&LA. "As the threat of the Zika virus grows, petty politics and congressional gridlock shouldn't get in the way of approving the necessary funding to support new research, vaccines and advanced solutions to mosquito control."
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said: "I've been all over Florida and the country, listening to people's concerns about Zika, and no one can comprehend why the U.S. Congress has left this unaddressed. What's most perverse is that the hold-up isn't even about the funding amount -- it's about using legislative procedure to score political points in an election year. This is an 'only in the Beltway' moment if there ever was one."
The letter read in part: "A failure by Congress to act quickly jeopardizes not only our citizens' health, but also the U.S. economy. The number of individuals infected with the Zika virus has grown, and there have been multiple instances of local transmission. The impact to the travel industry will have adverse and widespread economic ramifications… Funding for Zika efforts will ramp up local responses to the growing threat, and support an acceleration of research and development on vaccines, as well as advanced approaches to mosquito control. According to the National Institutes of Health and CDC, money will run out at the end of September, so it is imperative that Congress makes funding a first priority when it returns from August recess."

To read the full letter, click here.
For more information on Zika, visit the Centers for Disease Control.