The trade association for the theme park industry is asking for assistance from Congress as its members face billions of dollars in losses from closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter sent to all 100 U.S. Senators, the Orlando-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) asked for aid beyond what is being proposed in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — the third and largest stimulus package addressing the economic fallout from the outbreak.
As introduced, the bill includes direct financial aid of up to $1,200 for Americans who make up to $75,000 annually, as well as $500 per child, along with loan assistance for impacted industries like airlines.
“More needs to be done to ensure the attractions industry and its workers can sustain the shutdowns,” wrote IAAPA president and CEO Hal McEvoy. “We urge you to include a $250 billion Travel Workforce Stabilization Fund within the Department of Treasury with $150 billion in direct grants and $100 billion in unsecured, no-interest loans to mitigate the damage caused by shutdowns and ensure the attractions industry and other related travel-dependent businesses which do not qualify for [Small Business Administration loans] can maintain employment.”
IAAPA estimated that if amusement parks and attractions stay closed through June, the industry would lose 40 percent of its jobs and nearly $12 billion in revenue.
Orlando’s major parks are currently only scheduled to be closed through the end of March, though with federal guidelines asking events with 50 people or more to be canceled or postponed through mid-May, there’s little hope of an April reopening.
Several parks in the Cedar Fair chain — including Disneyland rival Knott’s Berry Farm in California — have said they “hope to open in Mid-May or as soon thereafter as possible.”
For now, parks are closed just ahead of the typically busy spring break and summer season.
“They have substantial fixed expenses, most important of which are employee wages,” McEvoy wrote. “As each day passes, with no end in sight for when restrictions on travel and gathering will be removed, this industry is increasingly unable to support their employees.”
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