The travel industry has unique challenges compared to other industries and it will take longer for it to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, says the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).
The member-based trade association is making this point clear after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled additional measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic on Friday (March 27).
The measures are part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $107 billion in support to Canadians so they can buy groceries, pay rent, and care for their loved ones, and also supports businesses through the crisis.
“The new measures announced last Friday are aligned with ACTA’s feedback to the government,” said Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA, in a statement. “However, we have also made it clear to our government contacts that we expect that the Travel Industry will have a longer recovery and experience some unique issues compared to most other industries. Special programs and consideration will be required to support travel agencies and travel agents.”
Among the measures introduced by the government include:
- A 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020 so businesses can keep and return workers to the payroll. ACTA says it actively lobbied for a 75 per cent wage subsidy, knowing that the previously announced 10 per cent was insufficient.
- Allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June.
- The new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses, in the form of lines of credit of up to $40,000 to businesses with payrolls of less than $1 million. A quarter of this loan (up to $10,000) is eligible for complete forgiveness.
- The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program, which will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19.
ACTA to continue lobbying long-term support
ACTA will continue to meet with government on a daily basis and lobby for longer-term financial aid for travel agencies and travel agents given the uniqueness of our industry, ACTA stated in a release on Monday (March 30th).
“What we have been advised so far is that employees can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund (ERF) and then apply for EI when the ERF expires. Independent Travel Agents can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund,” said Paradis. “We have further been advised that the 16-week period will be re-assessed as the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds. ACTA has made it clear to the government that 16 weeks will not be enough for Independent Travel Agents due to the uniqueness of the impact of the pandemic on the Travel Industry.”