Congress and the Trump Administration have come to an agreement on a massive $2 trillion (US) bill that includes assistance for travel advisors affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is expected to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by President Trump in the coming days.
Now the question is, “What happens in Canada?”
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies this week said agents north of the border need help, too.
“We are asking all ACTA members and their teams to URGENTLY write to your Federal MP, to the COVID-19 Parliament Committee members, the Prime Minister and your Provincial MPP/MLA to raise additional awareness that travel agents have been hard hit by the moratorium on travel and asking for assistance for travel agencies and travel agents,” said ACTA president Wendy Paradis.
There was one glimmer of good news in Europe. A study by Holiday Extras in Britain said that Brits are booking holidays for later this year in the hopes of the virus crisis easing. According to Travel Weekly, the company quizzed 1,000 would-be travellers and found that a solid 25% have already booked a new flight or holiday for travel after the pandemic is over.
News of relief for U.S. agents and advisors was greeted with enthusiasm by the travel sector.
“The fact that travel agencies are included in the airline assistance portion of the bill (in the U.S.) is a huge win and means that Congress heeded our call to include our members in any targeted travel industry relief,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “We are also heartened by the outpouring of support from the industry, including over 28,000 grassroots messages to legislators through ASTA.org, and feel strongly that our efforts made a significant difference in the size and scope of relief options in the bill.”
Travel agencies will be able to take advantage of several provisions within the bill. The Treasury Secretary can make up to $25 billion in loans, loan guarantees and other investments in support of passenger airlines, “ticket agents” (the statutory term for travel agencies) and other related aviation businesses. ASTA will work with both Treasury and Transportation Departments to implement this provision.
A new U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program will provide loans of up to $10 million will be available to U.S. businesses under the existing SBA size standards ($22 million in annual revenue) or with 500 or fewer employees. Independent contractors and the self-employed are eligible.