The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) welcomed hearing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announce last Friday (Feb. 22) that the CRB will be extended for another 12 weeks.
"This will greatly help Independent travel agents, as well as EI will be extended for another 24 weeks," ACTA said in a release on Feb 24.
The CRB extension only requires a regulatory change, but the EI extension requires a legislative change, which means it is a slightly more complex process, ACTA said.
Solvency for travel agencies and travel agents is ACTA’s primary concern right now – and the main focus of all of its lobbying and advocacy efforts.
“The many new restrictions and requirements introduced by the federal government have further delayed the recovery for the industry - and effectively shut down travel for now,” said Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA. “Our message to the government is plain and simple, our industry needs financial support now and well into the future.”
Paradis said that ACTA has brought up the need for an extension to the CRB in every single government meeting this year, even if that was not the topic of discussion.
“We have been lobbying extensively for this knowing it was the next significant aid program to expire” she said. ”We are aware that for many independent travel agents, this is their only source of income right now.”
More support needed
Paradis said the extension falls short of what is needed for the sector.
“In light of all of the travel restrictions currently in place and the lag time for recovery once restrictions are eased, ACTA will continue to actively advocate on behalf of independent travel agents that the CRB continue until Sept. 30, 2021 or until 90 days after travel restrictions have been eased,” she said.
ACTA is also advocating that the government make as many financial support programs available to as many travel agencies and independent travel agents as possible.
“Too many travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents are coming up against a lot of red tape and roadblocks,” said Paradis. “The financial situation for our industry is dire and our industry should be eligible for all aid programs at the highest levels.”
“We need extensions to all programs well into the fall of 2021 or beyond,” she added
Recovery plan submitted to Ottawa
ACTA has just finalized its 2021 Tourism and Travel Industry Recovery Plan, a submission to the federal government as part of the budget planning process.
The submission was sent to the key ministries ACTA works with last week.
In preparing the submission, ACTA worked in close collaboration with the Hardest Hit Coalition to ensure that the industry is aligned with the other hardest hit industries in its submission, for maximum impact.
“However, ours was customized for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents,” she said.
The submission is a seven-point plan for travel agency and travel agent support and recovery featuring the following seven priorities:
- Extension of the Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB) and Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits Programs
- Aid to cover commission recall
- Increase and extension to Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- Amendments to and extension of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
- Ensure HASCAP and other support programs such as the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan programs, work for all “hardest hit” businesses including home-based, independent travel agent businesses
- Work with industry to develop clear criteria for re-opening borders and easing travel restrictions, through rapid testing and establish vaccine documentation options to reduce or eliminate the 14-day quarantine
- Incentivize travel through tax credits and promote travel agents
The entire plan can be viewed here.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!