Travel Industry Asking Congress to Provide More Assistance to Travel Agencies

A group of 25 travel companies has sent a letter to federal lawmakers representing Florida in Washington, D.C., asking for immediate help for the travel industry.

Proposals from travel agents, consortia, tour agencies, franchise organizations and cruise line executives comply with contingency plans developed by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).

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Part of the letter deals with subsidies and loans from the U.S. government to travel agents, as well as possible measures to mitigate the impact of the closure of Canadian ports on the Alaska cruise season.

ASTA data shows that average travel agency sales are down 82% in 2020 compared to 2019. Even with economic support from the government, an average travel company laid off nearly 60% of its employees.

Officials are calling on the government to take responsibility for the impact of the expanded travel restrictions on agencies and their staff. The group believes that financial support for the tourism industry has been uneven to date, particularly for less visible sectors of the industry such as B. Travel Agents.

The letter reminds representatives that 98% of travel agencies in the U.S. are small businesses according to Small Business Administration (SBA) size indicators, and about 66% of them are owned and operated by women. Continued losses could force other agencies to close permanently.

These are priorities that government officials will need to consider in a forthcoming COWID-19 bill on aid and recovery:

-create a $9.3 billion grant program for travel agencies, similar to the program under the Permanent Appropriation Act of 2021 (P.L. 116-159), for operators of performing arts, cinemas, and museums ($15 billion), and for operators of private buses, ferries, and school buses ($2 billion). This amount represents the expected loss of revenue from the second to the fourth quarter of 2021, based on a large-scale survey of more than 1,500 ACTA members conducted on January 28 and 29, 2021, and is certainly conservative.

-Extend eligibility for interior operators (see above) to attractions, meeting and event organizers and travel agents who promote, plan and book travel for these attractions and events. This expansion would be similar to the original theater program, with not only operators, but also promoters, producers and talent representatives.

-Including NAICS code 5615 (travel and booking services) in the provision of the Permanent Appropriation Act allowing certain businesses to obtain a public-private partnership loan at 3.5 times their average monthly salary, compared to 2.5 times for other applicants.

-Support all efforts to mitigate the impact of the Canadian government’s decision to suspend cruise operations in Canadian waters until February 2022 while ensuring that the cruise industry resumes operations in Alaska as soon as possible.

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