Travel Leaders Group: Business Down 90%; Urgent Assistance Needed

Photo by Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

As the government takes action on a relief package for the travel industry, Travel Leaders Group is requesting immediate assistance for the tens of thousands of travel agency businesses around the country in danger of shutting down. Through mid-March, the travel agency network estimates, transaction have declined by 60 to 90 percent and are worsening as more countries close their borders. Without the survival of this distribution channel, a travel industry recovery would be next to impossible, the Travel Leaders says.

Noting that the financial impact from this event on travel will dwarf any downturn in recent history, Travel Leaders Group CEO J.D. O’Hara sent the urgent request to President Donald Trump, the Treasury Secretary and House and Senate leadership, asking for a relief package for travel agencies, many of which are small businesses. The request includes cash flow replacement grants of $10 billion and no-interest loans or loan guarantees of at least $20 billion in order to pay workers, benefits, creditors and various other assistance.

Like the airlines, without immediate intervention, travel agencies and travel management companies that support millions of consumers and corporations are in danger of a broad failure.

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It is a general misconception that everyone books their own travel directly with travel suppliers and through online travel websites. In 2019, travel agencies sold more than $76.5 billion in airline tickets covering more than 302 million passenger trips. Travel agencies sell over two-thirds of cruises and 68 percent of tours, according to research consultancy Phocuswright. 

“The interconnected travel industry is in serious peril if all of its elements are not included in a relief package,” O’Hara said in the letter, adding that any package must include travel agencies and travel management companies.

With more than 4,000 employees and a U.S. network of more than 50,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group’s collection of businesses account for approximately $20 billion in annual travel sales. 

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