Mar 17, 2020
Donald Trump Meeting Transcript with Tourism Industry Reps Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Donald Trump held a meeting at the White House with executives from the tourism industry today. Read the full transcript of their meeting right here.
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Donald Trump: (00:00)
Well, thank you very much. We have the tourism industry executives, the biggest anywhere in the world. These are the great ones, and they’re going to say a couple of little words pretty soon, I think, we’ll talk about their company quickly and the number of employees, and what’s happened since the Chinese virus came about, and they’ll be discussing that. So we’re join this afternoon by the true leaders of our nation’s travel, hospitality and tourism industries, and I want to thank you all for being here. I’ve known many of you for a long time. Great people. I want to thank vice president Pence for his tremendous leadership on the task force. He’s done a great job, and thanks also to secretary Mnuchin over at the Hill. They’ve been working and Wilbur Ross, and everybody basically, they’re all working. We’re all working very hard. We’re profoundly grateful to all of the companies and organizations here today representing tens of thousands of American workers, and really representing something so important.
Donald Trump: (01:01)
It’s a place to stay when they come to our country. Such a big business. One of the biggest businesses. And thank you for adopting additional protocols to keep Americans healthy, including enhanced cleaning processes throughout your hotels and buildings. We know that your industry is among the hardest hit by the economic impact of the virus. Our goal is to beat the virus, and we will, we call it the hidden virus, the hidden enemy, with aggressive action now, so that we can rebound stronger than ever before, and that’s what we’re doing. And everyone’s cooperating. We’re really getting tremendous spirit, the Republicans are getting along with Democrats, and a lot of good things are happening. Yesterday we issued new guidelines for how all Americans can minimize their risk of exposure, and stop the transmission of the virus. My administration has taken decisive action to support American workers, and businesses. We love our workers. We love those workers. They’re incredible. And we’re going to come out stronger than ever before, and it’s not going to be so long. The IRS will defer tax payments for effected individuals and businesses.
Donald Trump: (02:09)
Today, the Senate has taken up legislation to provide for free testing, and that’ll happen, paid sick and family medical leave and nutritional assistance for the vulnerable, we’re announcing, and we will be announcing again later on, that we’re working with Congress to provide rapid relief for affected workers in industries. And this will allow us to emerge from the strongest economy on earth, because we had literally the strongest economy on earth. And now this is in, as of last count, over 124 countries, I understand. 124 countries, unbelievable. But we’ll emerge, I really believe we’ll emerge stronger, because we’ll be doing things differently than this country’s done them in the past for many, many decades. And we’re deeply committed to ensuring that small businesses have the support they require, the Small Business Administration announced disaster loans, which provide impacted businesses with up to $2 million. And we’ve asked Congress to increase the SBA lending authority. We’re going to be going up to 50 billion, and actually much more than that for small businesses. So there’ll be help. In your cases, they’re very big businesses, but it’s a lot of employees, and so we appreciate it very much.
Donald Trump: (03:27)
We appreciate your being here, and maybe in front of the media, you could say a couple of words about your companies, and the number of people that you employ. I pretty much know every one of you in that respect. It’s a lot of people, and they’re great companies. Please.
Chris Nasetta: (03:41)
All right. Hi, I’m Chris Nassetta. I am CEO of Hilton, and we have 6,000 hotels around the world, about 4,500 hotels in the great United States of America. We employ globally about 450,000 people, about 260,000 people here in America. Mr President, on behalf of everybody, I’m sure you’ll hear this from others, we appreciate you having us here. We appreciate all that you’re doing today to keep all of us safe, and secure first, and working on trying to secure a good future for the economy, as you point out that was quite strong, but obviously being impacted by this, Vice President Pence, to you and all others that are working on this day and night, we appreciate it. As the president pointed out, we’re one of the biggest industries in the country, we’re one of the biggest employers in the country.
Chris Nasetta: (04:33)
And our industry as you will hear from others has been impacted in a devastating way. I’ve personally lived through many crisis starting with the SNL, the 9/11 crisis, the great recession. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, never seen anything like it. And so we’re hoping to have a constructive dialogue about how we protect the small businesses that make up the bulk of this industry, and how we protect the people on the front lines of this industry that number five billion people that at this point, given what’s going on in our industry are in harm’s way.
Donald Trump: (05:08)
And tell me, so you’re in many countries, and how are you doing in other countries? Some are in very, very bad shape.
Chris Nasetta: (05:14)
I was looking at our numbers for last night, it is strikingly similar everywhere in the world. If you look around the world, within, I would say just a few days or maybe a week, we will probably be running 10 to 15% occupancy.
Donald Trump: (05:33)
And that’s pretty much all over the world.
Chris Nasetta: (05:35)
That’s everywhere in the world. It’s a little bit better here, but catching up. If you look at the major cities around the United States, they’re running in the single digits, which means, for the first time in a hundred years, Hilton has been around a hundred years, we’ve never closed a hotel that wasn’t going to be demolished for rebuilding, the bulk of our hotels in the major cities are closing as we speak.
Donald Trump: (05:57)
Well, we’ll get it open soon and we’re doing a Yeoman’s effort. I think we’re going to be very successful. You’ll be back in business soon. But we have to keep your employees going. And the businesses going.
Chris Nasetta: (06:09)
We do. That’s our first priority.
Donald Trump: (06:11)
And we will be able to do that, Chris, thank you. But all over the world it’s a disaster.
Chris Nasetta: (06:16)
All over the world it’s a disaster. There’s not one part of the world that’s not getting severely impacted.
Donald Trump: (06:19)
Yep. Thank you very much. Please.
David Kong: (06:22)
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Ross, thank you for taking the time to see us, and thank you for everything that you are doing.
Donald Trump: (06:27)
Thank you very much.
David Kong: (06:29)
We very much appreciate it. I’m the president and CEO for Best Western, and also World Hotels. We have about 5,000 hotels around the world, half the hotels are in the United States. We employ tens of thousands of employees in our company. As Chris has already alluded to, This is a very difficult time, and very challenging times for us. Just today on a call with one of our franchisees, he was lamenting that although he owns about 10 different hotels, and different brands, and some with us and some with other brands, he was lamenting, I’m going to lay off hundreds of people in his company, some of them have been with them for 20, 30 years and he was really concerned about their livelihood, and their safety net, and the other thing that he mentioned was if the government can help with liquidity, and access to capital, that would be of great assistance, and he specifically mentioned that his loans were swap loans and therefore there are severe penalties if you finance. And so if there’s any way to alleviate that burden-
Donald Trump: (07:34)
With the banks.
David Kong: (07:35)
That would be most grateful.
Donald Trump: (07:36)
Yeah. We’re dealing with the banks too. The banks have been very accommodating. They will be. I think they will be.
David Kong: (07:42)
Donald Trump: (07:43)
Thank you David. Appreciate it. Please.
Arne Sorenson: (07:45)
Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott. Thanks for giving us your time this afternoon, and appreciate the leadership of all of you as we go through this crisis. I don’t need to repeat much of what’s been said. We think we have about 750,000 people that wear our name badge around the world every day. Probably about two thirds of those in the United States.
Donald Trump: (08:04)
How many hotel rooms now, worldwide?
Arne Sorenson: (08:05)
1.4 million, just shy of 1.4 million hotel rooms. And as you know, the business is made up of hotels we run, often hotels are owned by other investors, but we will operate them. And then also by franchise operators. And they are typically owner operators. They might range from a Fairfield Inn in a suburban or rural market all the way up to a Ritz Carlton or a St. Regis someplace. And you asked about the globe. In January, of course this all starts in China. Business falls by 90%.
Donald Trump: (08:37)
And this all started in China.
Arne Sorenson: (08:39)
All started in China.
Donald Trump: (08:40)
That’s where you first saw the problem, and it’s where you first got hit.
Arne Sorenson: (08:42)
Absolutely. Third week in January, and within a week-
Donald Trump: (08:46)
Hope you all heard that.
Arne Sorenson: (08:47)
Business is down about 90%. And you’ve been living this just the way we have. About three weeks ago, we have that horrible where it shows up to Korea and in Italy. They are sort of a clarion call, if you will, that it has left China, and it is moving to the rest of the world. And while we didn’t know exactly how it would show up in the United States, it was fairly clear that it was now a broader spread.
Donald Trump: (09:12)
Is China doing better now?
Arne Sorenson: (09:15)
China, there’s starting to be some green shoots. So Macau for example, we think we bottomed at about 2% occupancy.
Donald Trump: (09:21)
Arne Sorenson: (09:22)
Donald Trump: (09:23)
Arne Sorenson: (09:23)
Yeah. And we think we might be approaching 30 as of last night. Now that’s probably one of the stronger markets in China.
Donald Trump: (09:29)
So that means it’s coming.
Chris Nasetta: (09:30)
It’s coming back slow.
Arne Sorenson: (09:31)
They’re trying to get things going again, but we’re still in the rest of the world, including the United States, I get dailies, of course, of new reservations and cancellations. In every other market, the numbers are continuing to go down. So I don’t think we bottomed anywhere else yet. In the US, in the last couple of days anyway, when you look at decline in reservations, and in cancellations, the total is negative. So we’re losing business every day.
Donald Trump: (09:59)
We’re in the process. We haven’t hit that top yet, we’re in the process.
Arne Sorenson: (10:04)
And of course we’ll have some time with you today, but employees first, and I think liquidity second is the two things that are on our list.
Donald Trump: (10:13)
Thank you Arne. Thank you.
Ellie Maalouf: (10:15)
Thank you, Mr President. Ellie Maalouf of Intercontinental Sales Group, chief executive of the Americas. Thank you Mr. Vice President. We have nearly 6,000 hotels around the world, over 3,800 hotels in the United States, over 530,000 rooms. 80% of those are owned by small business people across 50 states, across every county, across every community. So we’re experiencing the same impact, similar to what the industry, the HLA and our colleagues here and talking about. I want to turn our attention to those small business owners in 50 states across the communities, because they are the bedrock of those communities, and as they’re getting impacted, it’s not just our employees that begin to see an impact in job losses, but it’s an entire ecosystem of their suppliers, their vendors. And so I think I’m very pleased that we can work together with you and the administration to find a solution to preserve that network of entrepreneurs across the country.
Donald Trump: (11:03)
Yep, we will.
Patrick Pacious: (11:05)
Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Vice President, Patrick Pacious, CEO of Choice Hotels International. We have 6,000 hotels in the US, that’s one out of every 10 hotels flies our flag. As others have talked about, we’re in secondary and tertiary markets. We may be the only hotel in a small town. Those owners have two kind of key concerns. One, what do they do with their employees when they’ve got zero occupancy, and two, how do they pay their mortgage? So it is this question of employee retention, and liquidity, so they can get through this period. 90% of our hotels are SBA-eligible, so we’re very familiar with the SBA loan program, and the disaster relief. There’s some red tape there that we have some suggestions that we think-
Donald Trump: (11:46)
Okay, give us those suggestions.
Patrick Pacious: (11:47)
You want them right now?
Donald Trump: (11:48)
Patrick Pacious: (11:49)
I’ll give them to you right now. The first is the disaster relief cap. It’s only 2 million, and if you’ve taken out the full five, you can’t get access to the additional two. So we need the cap raised.
Donald Trump: (12:00)
Patrick Pacious: (12:01)
We need it at least raised to 10. 10 million on per individual basis.
Donald Trump: (12:06)
Patrick Pacious: (12:06)
Secondly is the personal liquidity test, which just got put in place. That could be rolled back. And the final one is figuring out the affiliation. So an individual may own a partnership in multiple hotel. So that again restricts the amount of capital available to them. So we’d really like the opportunity to speak to the SBA about lifting some of those requirements to really help inject more liquidity.
Donald Trump: (12:27)
So it’s individual properties instead of accumulated primaries.
Patrick Pacious: (12:32)
Donald Trump: (12:33)
Okay, I got it. Thank you very much. Thank you Patrick.
Mark H.: (12:36)
Thank you. Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Hotels. We have 950 hotels around the world, and we have 600 in the United States. Over 70,000 employees. And I’m not going to repeat a lot of the things that were said. We’ve been tracking… we have a large base of group business in the United States, big meetings and conventions. And we’ve been tracking major cancellations. We now have tracked in the US alone, canceled events. And I’m not talking about major sports leagues that have shut down, or universities and those kinds of things, but actual convenings, conventions, big meetings.
Donald Trump: (13:15)
You have some of the sports leagues right?
Mark H.: (13:18)
Donald Trump: (13:19)
You have quite a few. Yeah, I would think so.
Mark H.: (13:20)
But when we look at just the other meetings that have been canceled, they involve attendees of over one and a half million people. So when you think about the ecosystem impact, it’s major convention markets where those attendees are not showing up. So they’re not traveling on airplanes, but they’re not staying in our hotels. They’re also not going out to restaurants. And so the collective impact is quite significant. I think the key issue that I would leave you with is that the urgency is very high, because day-by-day, the occupancy rates have dropped precipitously. So now we are seeing occupancies below 10% in the single digits, for the vast majority of our hotels. Whereas a week ago, they were 20, 30 points higher than that. It’s happened very rapidly.
Donald Trump: (14:05)
When this ends, do you see a quick buildup?
Mark H.: (14:07)
I think that all depends on how confident people are to get back on planes and start traveling again. So I think that’s really the key issue. We’ve got to also position ourselves to get people back into their jobs, either retain them, or rehire them. One of those two things are critical, because we all are proud of the people that we employ, and we want to retain them. So whether we can retain them, or have some assistance and get them and rehired early.So that we can spool back up.
Donald Trump: (14:35)
Hopefully you can retain them.
Mark H.: (14:36)
Hopefully we can.
Donald Trump: (14:37)
That’s what we’re shooting for. You want to retain them.
Chris Nasetta: (14:39)
I think the issue with that, sorry to interrupt Mark, Mr. President, is that when our owners are running 8, 9%, like I said, we’re shutting hotels. So all of those employees are being furloughed or laid off right now, day-by-day. Jim Murren is here somewhere, 80,000 people this week, we’re tens of thousands, because our owners can’t pay it.
Mark H.: (15:03)
So that’s the key issue that I was really making, is the timing. It’s happening instantaneously.
Chris Nasetta: (15:09)
One of the things we want to talk about is trying to create the fund for those people in order to stop that from happening.
Donald Trump: (15:17)
What kind of a fund would that be?
Chris Nasetta: (15:19)
I think that would have to, in lieu of sort of unemployment insurance it would be-
Donald Trump: (15:23)
In terms of dollars.
Chris Nasetta: (15:26)
I think the fund for that probably, our quarterly payroll for the industry is $45 billion in total. You can sort of scale it from there.
Donald Trump: (15:35)
I got it.
Michael Brown: (15:37)
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. Thank you for your time. I’m the CEO of Wyndham Destinations, and we are in the vacation ownership and exchange business, the world’s largest company in that space. We employ 23,000 associates, and take care of over five million households on vacation every year. Largely in the industry, it’s about an $80 billion impact to the overall economy, and we employ directly 250,000, and another 250,000 through other small businesses that work well with our industry. To your point about a quick recovery, we purely serve a leisure customer, which means just like after 9/11, just after the ’08, ’09, our customers will be back really quick, as soon as we’re on the other side. We really believe our industry will recover quickly-
Donald Trump: (16:28)
I think so too.
Michael Brown: (16:28)
And be an accelerant back to the economy once we get to the other side.
Donald Trump: (16:33)
I think so too. Thank you very much.
Michael Brown: (16:35)
Jim Murren: (16:35)
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Jim Murren-
Donald Trump: (16:37)
Jim Murren: (16:37)
The chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts. It’s good to see you all again, Mr. Secretary.
Donald Trump: (16:43)
We couldn’t get you a chair? What happened?
Jim Murren: (16:44)
Well, we’re in the spatial recognition world, but I just wanted to say on behalf of MGM, we have made a decision around the country to close our resorts, and tomorrow night we will close all the resorts in Las Vegas. That’s 70,000 people we are now putting on a furlough. I want to retain those employees. I want to bring them back as soon as possible. Las Vegas as you know, will come back rapidly once you give us the green light.
Donald Trump: (17:14)
I think so.
Jim Murren: (17:14)
But it’s very important that we keep these people on our payroll just as soon as possible. I also represent the two million jobs of the gaming industry in the United States. And as you know, many of those casinos are in cities that rely upon them for their tax revenue. So I appreciate your efforts, and I stand by to help you in any way I can.
Donald Trump: (17:34)
Okay, we’ll get it done here.
Jim Murren: (17:36)
Donald Trump: (17:37)
We’ll get it done.
Richard Bates: (17:37)
I’m Richard Bates, I’m with the Walt Disney company and today I’m here for the theme park and hotel/motel business. Thank you Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary, we have about 220,000 employees. We think our company is great because of our employees. So employee retention is the single most important issue for me. Second would be liquidity. So I frankly support some kind of employee/employer payroll tax holiday. I don’t know if you’re still-
Donald Trump: (18:06)
Is that what you like the best of the various scenarios?
Richard Bates: (18:09)
I like them all, but that one I like a lot.
Donald Trump: (18:13)
Most direct, not as quick, but most direct.
Richard Bates: (18:17)
I think so.
Donald Trump: (18:17)
Jim Murren: (18:18)
Especially Mr. President, because a lot of us who like Disney voluntarily closed their parks, so they have people out of work today, as does MGM, we have voluntarily closed these resorts. And if we can get some relief on that, we will absolutely want to keep these people on put.
Donald Trump: (18:36)
Let me ask you, the parks outside of the United States-
Richard Bates: (18:39)
Donald Trump: (18:40)
Closed? You closed all of the parks, everything. Closed. That’s a real worldwide problem, isn’t it?
Richard Bates: (18:46)
Donald Trump: (18:46)
Jim Murren: (18:48)
And I’m sorry, one last point. Mr President, on Macau, because Arne Sorenson was talking about it, of course, we own two resorts there. The government shut those casinos down, as you know, for two weeks. We’re starting to slowly see a recovery there, but it is absolutely single digit occupancy right now, so we’re not seeing any better results there currently.
Donald Trump: (19:09)
You guys okay? Yes, please.
Chip Rogers: (19:11)
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. I’ll be quick. Industry-wide, last year, occupancy was 67%, that helped support 8.3 million jobs. Right now, as these gentlemen have indicated, we’re probably under 20% nationwide, and headed South. If by the end of the year we get up to 35%, and nothing else happens, that’ll be about 4 million jobs lost. That’s if we can get back up to 35%.
Donald Trump: (19:34)
But they’ll come back as we age a little bit, right?
Chip Rogers: (19:38)
Yes, the quicker the better.
Donald Trump: (19:40)
Yeah, I think so. May come back fast. Thank you very much. Okay, thank you all very much. Thank you. Please.
Speaker 12: (19:45)
Press, come on guys let’s go.
Speaker 13: (19:45)
How much money are you talking, if you’re sending checks to everybody, how much money are you talking about?
Donald Trump: (19:51)
That’s all being figured now, and we’re also helping industries like Boeing, we have to help Boeing, we have to help the airline industry. It wasn’t their fault. This wasn’t their fault, and we will do that. We’ll be doing that. So we’re adding it up. It’ll be fine. It’ll come back very quickly once we’re finished with our war with the virus.
Speaker 14: (20:10)
Mr. President, this idea of the payroll tax holiday, nothing as big as 12.4% has ever been tried. They did 2% in 2010.
Donald Trump: (20:19)
They’ve done it in smaller amounts, yeah.
Speaker 14: (20:21)
They’ve done it in smaller amounts. Can the country afford something that big?
Donald Trump: (20:25)
Well, it can definitely afford it. The question is, do we want to go through payroll, and do what we want to do. There are four other ways of doing it, and that’s what we’re determining, along with the Senate right now. Senate and House, we’re all working on this together. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 12: (20:39)
Press, let’s go, we’re finished. Come on guys. Press, we’re done. Let’s go.
Speaker 15: (20:43)
What is your message to the tens of thousands of employees, of all of these companies, who’ve been furloughed, they live paycheck to paycheck in many cases. What is your message to them Mr. President?
Donald Trump: (20:52)
Well, the message is that this was something that happened. It’s nobody’s fault. It happened. And we’re going to take care of it. We’ll be bigger, stronger, better than ever before, and it won’t take that long. Thank you very much.
Speaker 12: (21:03)
All right press, let’s go.