CEO Calls for $2,000 Travel Stimulus Plan as Coronavirus Crimps Gaming, Leisure Industry

Posted on: March 5, 2020, 02:10h. 

Last updated on: March 9, 2020, 10:19h.

The travel and leisure industry, including gaming operators, is being pinched by the spread of the novel coronavirus in the US, prompting one executive to push politicians to consider stimulus efforts. CEO Tim Hentschel wants lawmakers to consider a travel stimulus package to help the industry rebound following the coronavirus. (Image: Reuters)

Tim Hentschel, CEO of online travel group provider, said that while economic damage at the hands of the coronavirus is already done, the government “should step in to help the industry rebound” after the dust settles.

The coronavirus was an unforeseen tragedy that posed inevitable consequences that aren’t the fault of any one person,” said Hentschel in remarks emailed to “That’s why I’m calling on the government to offer a $2,000 write-off for travel-related expenses to help our industry rebound and give people the freedom to travel.”

Hentschel’s comments come as California, which has reported one COVID-19 death, declared a state of emergency over the virus, while the death toll in Washington State jumped to 10. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and his team are forcing a Grand Princess cruise ship, which was due to dock in San Francisco last Saturday, to remain at sea until virus test kits can be delivered by helicopter. Newsom said 21 crew and passengers are displaying virus-like symptoms.

More Troubling Signs

Signs are mounting that the respiratory illness will take a toll on the domestic gaming industry after already doing so in Macau.

Earlier today, Nevada confirmed its first coronavirus case. Last week, the White House and Google canceled conferences in Las Vegas, citing the outbreak. Adobe, Facebook, and the NXT Global Summit have since followed suit in scrapping Sin City meetings.

Since the first reported case of the illness in China in mid-January, more than 40 business meetings, conferences, and conventions have been scuttled around the world, dealing a major blow to the global business conference industry – one that drives $2.5 trillion in annual economic output.

Earlier today, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the coronavirus outbreak “has a 9/11-like feel” while noting, “We could discount prices tomorrow and it wouldn’t do any good.”

Seeking Stimulus

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 50 basis points, a rarity considering the reduction did not coincide with a regularly scheduled meeting. Other central banks are expected to do the same to support economies hit by the coronavirus.

Hentschel believes policymakers should something similar for the travel industry.

“Politicians are proposing stimulus packages or cutting interest rates and these are all measures that would be helpful to the travel industry and economy as a whole as we face the aftermath of the coronavirus,” he said.

Such a plan, if it materializes over the near-term, could be helpful to Las Vegas, because March was one of the busiest months for visits to the gaming hub last year, and April was steady as well. In 2019, more than 7.2 million visitors traveled to Sin City in the third and four months combined, according to data from the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority (LVVCA).