The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the largest advocacy body for US travel agents, is urging its members to get behind a plea for a multi-billion dollar financial aid package for the travel industry.
With US Senators and Members of Congress considering new relief legislation for the sector, ASTA says its goal “as always, is to secure the maximum amount of financial relief for the broadest range of our membership, targeted toward travel agencies and the travel industry to the greatest extent possible”.
To help its cause, ASTA is asking members to send a pre-drafted email to their Members of Congress that calls for a US$9.3 billion grant for businesses.
Titled, 'Save Travel Advisors in Upcoming Relief Bill!', here’s the petition in full:
“I'm writing as a constituent and on behalf of the more than 140,000 people who work in the travel agency industry to ask you to take immediate action to provide relief to our industry during this time of crisis.
As you are aware, the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has had a catastrophic impact on the U.S. travel industry. According to surveys from the American Society of Travel Advisors, travel agency business income was down 82 percent in 2020 as compared to 2019, and even factoring in the relief programs created by the CARES Act the average travel agency has laid off close to 60 percent of its staff. With government restrictions on travel multiplying by the day and no end to the pandemic in sight, without immediate action from Congress this part of the travel industry, virtually all of whom are small businesses and two-third of whom are women business owners, will cease to exist.
In the next round of coronavirus relief legislation, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to create a $9.3 billion travel agency grant program akin to those created by the Continuing Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 for live event venues, bus operators and others; to include NAICS Code 5615 (Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services) in the CAA provision allowing certain businesses to receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of 3.5 times their average monthly payroll versus 2.5 times for other applicants; and to support any and all efforts to mitigate the impact of the Canadian government's decision to suspend cruising in Canadian waters through February 2022.
As your constituent, I urge you to support these measures and any others that will help your constituents in the industry - travel agencies, their employees and independent contractors.
Thank you for considering my views on these critical issues.”
Elsewhere, the US Government has confirmed it will help American airlines to the tune of US$14 billion.
According to the World of Aviation, “The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee voted 29-24 in favour of supplying an additional $14 billion in payroll support to US airlines through to September 2021, as well as $1 billion for contractors.”
It is expected the relief package will save 50,000 aviation jobs across the US.
The Biden Administration has also scrapped a mandatory pre-flight COVID-19 test for domestic passengers.
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