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D.C. Tourism Group Pledges $18 Million To Help City's Hospitality Workers, Industry

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for Washington, D.C., approved an $18 million relief package to help bolster the hospitality and tourism industry in the nation's capital, which has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restaurant workers and operators will get $5 million, hotel workers and operators will get the same, $5 million will go to undocumented workers throughout the District, and $3 million will fund marketing efforts.

According to Max Brown, chairman of the board of directors for Events DC, the agency generates a lot of revenue from restaurant and hotel taxes. But many of the industry's workers have been furloughed, laid off, or otherwise have lost work.

"We thought it was really important to help people and their families during this time of emergency. There's no other way to put it," Brown said. "People can't pay their rent, people can't buy food, people can't take care of their families."

Undocumented workers are included in the relief package because of the impact they have on tourism in Washington, D.C., he added.

"These are folks that can't get unemployment insurance, who are really, along with all our workers, the backbone of our hospitality economy," Brown said.

Brown says that the reason they can offer up so much money is because they have been saving money in reserves for unexpected events.

"We're always preparing for both strategic investments and making sure that we have resources for unknown events that could happen," Brown said. "When we look back over time, we saw what happened in the 2008 financial crisis. We saw what happened [after Sept. 11]."

Events DC is partnering with local community nonprofit organizations that will put together plans in the coming days to make sure the money gets delivered properly and in a timely manner.

Brooklyn Riepma is an intern on NPR's National Desk.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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