A new petition that calls upon Canada's Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to ensure that any bailout of the aviation industry includes protections for travel agent commissions is now open for signatures.
The Clerk of Petitions for the House of Commons announced Petition e_3029 on Dec. 30 (Click here to view and sign it).
The petition was drafted by the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) and sponsored by MP Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows-Mapleridge, BC).
It was drafted when commission recalls was first made public when WestJet and Transat announced that they would provide refunds for trips cancelled due to COVID, ACITA said in a statement.
The petition outlines the commission recall issue in easy to read terminology and gives a clear call to action for the Minister of Transport to ensure that bailouts to airlines and their tour subsidiaries are conditional on the protection of travel advisor commissions.
The timing of the petition is strategic, said ACITA. The petition is open to signatures until January 29th, at which time the House of Commons will resume its winter sitting.
"ACITA has been pleased with the number of travel advisors and agency owners who have scheduled meetings with their MP (over 115 to date) so that they can explain, on behalf of the travel advisor or agency owner, how devastating recalled commissions will be to the 24,000 Travel Advisors across Canada, forcing many into personal bankruptcy," the group said in a statement.
ACITA is a grassroots advocacy group that formed in June to educate and lobby politicians about the challenges self-employed travel agents are facing amid the pandemic.
The initiative is led by Judith Coates of The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND), Brenda Slater of Beyond the Beach and Nancy Wilson of TravelOnly – three longtime travel advisors from three different agencies.
The group rallies independent travel advisors on a private Facebook group, which now boasts more than 1,500 professionals, urging members to schedule a one-on-one Zoom meeting with their local MP so they can personally explain why they need help.
“We go through a 10 minute presentation deck and then invite the MP to ask questions or give suggestions," said Coates. “Time after time we see their jaw drop when we come to the part in the presentation where we tell them how many notices of commission recalls travel advisors have already received, or had taken out of their BSP Account, and how many thousands of dollars the travel advisors in their riding will have to pay back to travel suppliers if the government does not stipulate some form of protection along with consumer refunds.”
PAX attended one of ACITA's virtual presentations in November, the details of which you can read here.
Since the summer, as a result of their efforts, the group has successfully gained support from politicians and, in turn, have given travel advisors a voice in Ottawa.
Their grass roots initiative has made headway into the back hallways of Parliament (they have been told by the MPs they meet that they are often the subject of conversation at the water cooler).
As their petition states, according to ACTA, the total amount of commissions that will be recalled will amount to $200 Million, an amount that ACITA says will "decimate the travel advisor community."
ACITA urges all travel professionals to not only sign their petition, but to share it to their business and personal social media pages.
The wording is very consumer friendly and is quick to point out that travel professionals support the option of consumer refunds.
Click here to read and sign ACITA's petition.
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