ASTA Pushing for $9.3 Billion Travel Agency Grant Program

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is calling on members to reach out to…

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is calling on members to reach out to their local legislators in an effort to secure more than $9 billion in COVID relief.

According to a member survey of 1,500 advisors conducted late last month, travel agencies are projected to lose $9.3 billion in revenue over the final three quarters of 2021.

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To combat the loss, ASTA is pushing for Congress to include a multi-billion-dollar travel agency grant program in the next round of coronavirus aid. The society is also hoping to add travel agencies to a provision allowing them to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan of three-and-a-half times their average monthly payroll compared to two-and-a-half times and encouraging lawmakers to help with the recent suspension of cruise operations in Canadian waters through February 2022, a decision poised to impact Alaska sailings.

“As you are well aware, 2021 has brought additional government restrictions on travel, further pushing back our industry’s recovery. The good news is that between today and mid-March, Congress is expected to write and pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation,” the society said in a recent message to members. “Our 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.”

“ASTA staff and outside lobbyists are working around the clock to push for our COVID priorities but your members of Congress need to hear from you as well in the short window we have to affect the legislative process,” ASTA added. “We know we have asked you to contact your members of Congress multiple times since the pandemic began, and thank the more than 25,000 of you who have done so. With another relief bill coming soon, we need to ask you to engage once again.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said “financial support for the travel industry has been tragically inadequate, and especially in less visible sectors such as travel agencies.”

“We call on the Administration and Congress to take immediate steps to provide direct and targeted relief for as long as these restrictions on travel remain in effect through the creation of an emergency grant program for travel agencies and other travel-reliant small businesses,” he added. “We further recommend that legislative or regulatory action be taken to mitigate the impact of the Canadian government’s decision to suspend cruise operations in Canadian waters through February 2022 and that future relief be targeted to the most distressed sectors of the economy affected by government order.”

ASTA members can use the organization’s grassroots portal to quickly and easily write or call their elected officials.