ASTA Asks Congress for Coronavirus Relief

Washington DC National Capitol Building
Photo by Getty/lucky-photographer

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has requested coronavirus relief from Congress.

“The vast majority of U.S. travel agencies (98 percent) are small businesses according to Small Business Administration’s (SBA) standards, and over two-thirds of them are owned and operated by women,” ASTA said in its request to Congress. :At last count, there were close to 15,000 retail locations in the U.S., employing over 108,000 people. There are an additional 40,000 self-employed travel advisors working mostly as independent contractors.”

Among ASTA’s requests are:

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  • Grants to ticket agents in the aggregate amount of $7.7 billion to compensate for reduced liquidity (net of financing)—from December 31, 2019 through December 31, 2020—attributable to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19); this amount represents projected 2020 revenue loss based on a survey of over 1,500 ASTA members conducted on March 5 and 6, 2020, and is almost certainly conservative
  • A voluntary liquidity facility program in an aggregate amount up to $6 billion pursuant to which the Federal Reserve would purchase financial instruments from or provide zero interest unsecured loans or zero interest unsecured loan guarantees to ticket agents; this amount takes Airlines for America’s request for loans for passenger airlines and adjusts it proportionally based on passenger airline employment versus travel agency employment
  • That Congress fully fund President Donald Trump’s March 11 request for an additional $50 billion in SBA loans
  • Eligibility for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans be immediately broadened to encompass businesses across the country, as was done after 9/11
  • Loan collateral requirements be reduced or waived entirely
  • Any and all tax relief initiatives like payroll tax suspension, deferrals, carryback of losses; the more these measures are targeted at travel industry businesses and/or small businesses, the better.

The statement continues, “Discussions about targeted financial relief for the travel sector are fast-moving with requests ranging from $58 billion from passenger and cargo airlines to $10 billion for U.S. airports. We feel strongly that any targeted relief for the travel industry should be open to travel agencies and not simply limited to the largest companies in the industry.”

Good to know: ASTA has a landing page for resources, www.asta.org/COVID19. It also hosts weekly webinars on Mondays form 3-4 p.m. EST, providing the latest from ASTA’s advocacy and communication efforts. (All are welcome.) Travel advisors can also use ASTA's Advocacy page to tell Congress and the White House to act now to save travel advisors.

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