Cabinet Room Washington D.C. March 17 2:16 P.M. EDT
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 joined 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. It's the 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 is cooperating. We're really getting tremendous spirit. 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 affected individuals and businesses.
Today, the Senate is taking up legislation to provide for free testing - and that will 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 and 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. A hundred and twenty-four countries. Unbelievable. But we'll emerge - I really believe we'll emerge stronger because we'll be doing things differently than this country has 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 SB lending authority. We're going to be going up to $50 billion and, actually, much more than that for small businesses. So they'll be helped. In your cases, they're very big businesses, but it's a lot of employees. And so we appreciate it very much.
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 you employ. And I pretty much know every one of you in that respect. It's a lot of people and great companies.
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, you know, one of the biggest industries in the country. We're one of the biggest employers in the country. And our industry, as you will hear from others, has been impacted in a devastating way.
I personally lived through many crisis, starting with the S&L, the 9/11 crisis, the Great Recession. I've been doing this for 35 years. Never seen anything like it. And so, you know, we're hoping to have a constructive dialogue about, you know, how we protect the small businesses that make up the bulk of this industry and how we protect the people on the frontlines of this industry - that number, 5 million people - that, at this point, given what's going on in our industry, are in harm's way.
And tell me: So you're in many countries. And how are you doing in other countries? Some are in very, very bad shape, I know.
I would - you know, I was looking at our numbers last night; it is strikingly similar everywhere in the world.
If you look at the - you know, around the world, we - within, you know, I would say, just a few - you know, a few days or maybe a week, we will probably be running 10 to 15 percent occupancy in the world.
And that's pretty much all over the world.
That's everywhere in the world. It's a little bit better here, but - 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 100 years - Hilton has been around 100 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.
Well, we'll get it open soon and we're going to - we're doing a - we're doing a yeoman's effort. I think it's - 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. And we -
Yeah. That's our first priority.
And we will be able to do that, Chris. Thank you. But all over the world, it's a disaster.
All over the world, it's a disaster. There's not one part of the world that's not being -
Yeah. It's all over.
- severely impacted.
Yep. Thank you very much. Please.
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