MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)- Congressman Tom Rice wants hundreds of billions of the coronavirus rescue package to go towards helping the tourism industry.
Out of the nearly $2 trillion package, $500 billion is set aside for affected industries.
This past weekend, Congressman Rice wrote a letter lobbying for $100 billion to help tourism. Now, after speaking with other lawmakers, he’s drafting a new letter seeking upwards $300 billion for the tourism industry.
Rice said this money is crucial as our area has nearly 500 hotels and more than 1,800 restaurants, with tens of thousands of people becoming unemployed. Which in turn, could affect the state’s general fund as billions from the Grand Strand’s tourism revenue go towards the budget.
Rice said $300 billion is not a lot as 11 percent of the U.S. workforce is employed by tourism-related jobs, and other industries have not been ordered to close their doors.
“We’re not telling people they can’t fly, we’re telling them they can’t go to bars and restaurants which kills tourism. It kills it,” said Rep. Tom Rice, who represents South Carolina’s seventh district.
Congressman Rice said how that money will be allocated is up to the Treasury Secretary, but expects the Myrtle Beach area to get a significant amount.
The congressman also touched on test kits and said the CDC and FDA initially failed during the onset of the pandemic and said it should’ve been turned over to private enterprise because they can respond faster.
“What I don’t like in this time where we’re telling people they should stay in their houses and that this disease is dangerous and at the same time you can’t be tested? That’s bothersome to me and we need to do better,” said Rep. Rice.
Congressman Rice said he wants to ensure oversight of federal agencies to learn from mistakes for the future.