A petition initiated by the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) was read out loud in the House of Commons earlier this month, giving the trade an important voice among Canada’s political decision makers.
Petition e-3643, initiated by ACITA co-founder Judith Coates of the Travel Agent Next Door, launched on Oct. 29.
Addressed to the Government of Canada on behalf of more than 12,000 independent travel advisors, the petition called for sector-specific funding for independent travel advisors in the form of bridge financing until May 2022, “at the very minimum,” until they are able to see recovery in their businesses.
“These advisors in Canada have been working without income for 19 months due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said MP Marc Dalton of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC, who read ACITA’s petition in the House on Dec. 2.
“The Liberal party promised financial aid for these advisors, but sadly, there was zero mention of it in the throne speech. And they’re not included in the provisions of Bill C-2.”
Independent travel advisors will not benefit from Bill C-2, which the Liberal government tabled on Nov. 24, as the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has also pointed out.
The Bill aims to provide up to 75 per cent wage and rent subsidies to travel agencies who suffered a revenue decline of 40 per cent or greater under the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.
This "only benefits storefront agencies," ACITA co-founder and travel advisor Nancy Wilson of TravelOnly told PAX in a previous interview.
Independent travel advisors need the government to “provide us with a vehicle to deliver aid to our 'sector within a sector,' or sub sector,” Wilson said.
Slipping through the cracks
Federal assistance programs, like CEBA, CERS, CEWS and RRRF, exclude the majority of these small business owners, “leaving them to slip through the cracks, and forcing them into massive debt and bankruptcy,” as ACITA’s petition outlined.
In addition: “Independent travel advisors will not see revenue in their businesses until 5-11 months after the lifting of travel advisories and cruising advisories,” the petition read.
MP Dalton also communicated the petition’s second ask, which is to ensure that independent travel advisors are included in the class of eligible applicants for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, which Ottawa announced on Oct. 21.
ACITA’s petition closed on Nov. 28 and, in total, it generated 2,586 signatures.
“We believe that due to the petition, along with our most recent meeting schedule that resulted from our email campaign that targeted all MPs, we are seeing a lot of debate in the House of Commons surrounding inequities in support in Bill C-2, enacted to support the hardest-hit businesses,” Wilson told PAX.
Since the petition was presented, MP Richard Cannings South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC, also stood up for independent travel advisors in the House of Commons, supporting their need for sector-specific aid.
ACITA, meanwhile, has been meeting with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s policy advisors to get further clarification on the government’s on-arrival COVID-19 testing program at Canadian airports.
Here's a video of MP Dalton presenting ACITA's petition.