The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has confirmed that travel agencies will qualify for federal supports unveiled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.
On Aug. 16, the Liberal leader, on day two of his re-election campaign, announced that businesses in the tourism sector with a minimum 40 per cent revenue loss would receive a new rent and wage subsidy at a maximum 75% rate until May 31, 2022.
"ACTA has received confirmation that travel agencies qualify as an eligible business under this proposed plan," the association said in a release on Tuesday (Aug. 24).
But as PAX first reported last week, Trudeau's pledge to support tourism does not address the needs of independent travel advisors.
Sectoral support for ICs is a critical election issue for many: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is the only federal program that agents – independent ones, especially – have actually been eligible for. It's already been reduced and it ends on Oct. 23.
With no access to other supports – such as CEWS, CERS, CEB or HASCAP – “Travel advisors have been left out in the cold,” The Travel Agent Next Door’s Judith Coates, co-founder of the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA), told PAX last week.
Worse: “Less than half of all independent travel advisors” were able to apply for the RRRF (Regional Relief and Recovery Fund), Coates said, due to a technicality that required urban small businesses to be incorporated (most independent TAs are sole proprietors).
“If Trudeau's pledge of support follows along the lines of the support that we have received from the federal government to date, independent advisors have nothing to look forward to in the event of another Liberal government,” Coates said.
ACTA, on Tuesday, acknowledged that Trudeau's plan "unfortunately does not address the needs of independent travel agents" and, as such, the association is developing a "separate strategic response" for those businesses.
“This is a critical time for travel agent businesses to make financial support and survival an election issue. ACTA’s advocacy efforts will continue in full force through the election period, but member grassroots advocacy is key to our success, said ACTA President Wendy Paradis in a news release.
ACTA, at the same time, is urging travel advisors to help make support for the travel industry an election issue.
“We want decision makers to feel like they are making the right decision supporting the travel and tourism industry, to ensure policies becomes law in September by whatever party is elected and that it has as high a budget as possible,” said Paradis.
The association is urging the industry get active on Twitter by specifically addressing local candidates.
"Candidates, party leaders, and journalists are looking to Twitter during the election, and it is the best platform to share the industry’s message," ACTA said.
Industry members can compose their own Tweet or use the following templates (as they apply to your business):
My travel agent business is a hardest-hit tourism business. I appreciate @JustinTrudeau announcement for sector-specific aid and call on all parties to adopt similar policies. This lifeline will help us survive for recovery! @melaniejoly @cafreeland @YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATE #Election2021
@JustinTrudeau announced aid to hardest-hit tourism businesses. This will help my travel agent business survive to see recovery and save jobs. All parties should do something similar! @melaniejoly @cafreeland @YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATE #Election2021
My travel agent business will only survive with sector-specific support. @JustinTrudeau announced subsidies that will help me survive to see recovery. @erinotoole @theJagmeetSingh should follow suit to protect businesses and jobs! @melaniejoly @cafreeland @YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATE #Election2021
ACTA is also reminding the industry to reach out to their local candidates and request meetings to talk about your business issues, attend a BBQ or other small gatherings, and ask candidates for support.
Federal Election 2021 takes place on September 20, 2021. For PAX's primer on the travel industry issues being discussed this election, and what the top three candidates are saying, click here.