Thursday,  May 19, 2022  9:35 pm

ACTA reviews a week of good travel agent news

  • Agency
  •   01-19-2022  8:32 am
  •   Pax Global Media

ACTA reviews a week of good travel agent news
Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA. (Pax Global Media)
Pax Global Media

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is acknowledging some of the good news that unfolded last week for travel agents and agencies.

For starters, The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is once again waiving registrant fees as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to financially impact Ontario’s travel agencies and wholesalers.

ACTA says it lobbied both TICO and the Ontario government to waive the fees for another year.

“We are pleased that the Ontario government gave additional exceptional funding to TICO so that fees could once again be waived for a third year,” said Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA, in a release on Tuesday (Jan. 18). “Removing this financial barrier will make a significant difference for many Ontario travel agencies, and ACTA is thankful to the Government of Ontario and Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services for unlocking funding to TICO in support of this fee waiver.”

READ MORE: TICO is once again waiving registrant fees

Paradis said that during ACTA’s meetings with government, it advocated for a full review of TICO and the Compensation Fund, and will continue that work going forward.

(Association of Canadian Travel Agencies)

ACTA says it is further advocating with the governments of British Columbia and Quebec for fee waivers during the pandemic.

Also last week, the Government of Canada announced extensions to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) loan repayment deadlines.

“The COVID-19 crisis is lasting much longer than we all anticipated and ACTA is advocating for further loan forgiveness to support industry survival,” said Paradis.

Independent agents & the CWLB

ACTA says it continues to advocate for independent travel agent financial support, noting that it has sought clarity on independent travel agent access to the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB), which provides $300/week to eligible workers in a lockdown region.

However, as PAX reported last week, the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) has obtained some clarity on the matter through MP Paul Chiang of Markham—Unionville, who reviewed clauses of the benefit directly with Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough.

In a follow-up letter to ACITA last week, MP Chiang wrote that independent travel advisors are, indeed, eligible for $300 of income support per week.

READ MORE: Independent travel advisors are eligible for federal Lockdown Benefit, ACITA confirms

The support is retroactive from Dec. 19, 2021 to Feb. 12, the email states, and comes to $270 after taxes withheld for each one-week period applied for.

Agents can apply via their CRA account here (but they are advised to contact Canada Revenue Agency to confirm their eligibility).

Each region in Canada is treated differently and independent agents can click this link to confirm exactly when they first started to qualify.  It also appears that travel agents in Saskatchewan are being denied the benefit as that province, according to the Government of Canada’s official list, is not subject to lockdown restrictions.

ACITA told PAX last week that it has asked MP Chiang for assistance in clarifying this issue. PAX has also reached out to ACTA for further clarification on this benefit.

The ITARP & rent subsidies 

During the holidays, ACTA submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Tourism – the Independent Travel Agent Relief Program (ITARP) – which pushes for equality in terms of financial support for independent travel agents and other small businesses.

“The ITARP is being considered by the Ministry of Tourism, who are interested in finding solutions to support independent travel agents,” ACTA said.

Further, knowing that the rent and wage subsidies are scheduled to drop significantly starting in March, ACTA is also advocating for the extension of the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program wage and rent subsidies at the highest levels to support travel and tourism business survival.

Here’s ACTA’s breakdown of the latest updates:

CEBA/RRRF loan repayment extension

  • The repayment deadline to qualify for partial loan forgiveness is extended by a year to Dec. 31, 2023.
  • For the CEBA, repayment on or before the end of 2023 will result in loan forgiveness up to 1/3 of the total value (up to $20,000).
  • Outstanding loans after 2023 will be converted to a two-year term loan with interest of 5% per year, to be paid in full by December 31, 2025.
  • No new applications for CEBA or RRRF loans are being accepted at this time.

TICO fee waiver

  • TICO annual registration renewal fees and Compensation Fund contributions owed from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 are waived for travel agencies and wholesalers.
  • The waiver applies to all those who are licensed with TICO as of March 31, 2022.
  • Registrants are still required to complete and file a Registration Renewal Form and Compensation Fund Form (Form-1), but no payments are owed.

Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

  • The CWLB is not a sector-specific program, and is available to all Canadian residents. Individuals must determine personally if they meet the criteria established by the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Furloughed travel agency employees and independent travel agents are encouraged to contact the Canada Revenue Agency to discuss their personal eligibility: 1-800-959-8281

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