Here’s who will be speaking at ACTA’s September Summits

ACTA’s clarifies financial support details for the retail travel sector

TORONTO — In these tough times it’s important to celebrate every win, especially for ACTA which has been advocating for pandemic supports for the retail travel industry since the very beginning.

ACTA is highlighting the good news the industry received last week on several fronts, including updates from the federal government and TICO.

As ACTA President Wendy Paradis notes, ACTA lobbied both TICO and the Ontario government for relief from registration fees for another year.

Last week TICO announced it was waiving registrant fees for the third straight year, as a way to help Ontario’s travel agencies and wholesalers navigate through the ongoing financial challenges of the pandemic.

“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 Paradis.

“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.”

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

ACTA is also advocating with the B.C. and Quebec governments for fee waivers during the COVID-19 crisis.

LOAN REPAYMENT EXTENSIONS

Another win came in the form of the federal government’s 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,” says Paradis.

She says ACTA continues to advocate for independent travel agent financial support, and 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.

Meanwhile ACTA’s proposal for a new program ensuring equality in terms of financial support for independent travel agents and other small businesses — a proposal known as the Independent Travel Agent Relief Program (ITARP) — has now been submitted to the Ministry of Tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism is now looking at ITARP, says ACTA, adding that the ministry is interested in finding solutions to support independent travel agents.

ACTA is also already 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.

The rent and wage subsidies, part of Bill C-2 passed in December 2021 to help bridge the gap following the wind-down of programs like CEWS and CERB, are scheduled to drop significantly starting in March 2022.

Details on the various programs are as follows …

CEBA/RRRF LOAN REPAYMENT EXTENSION

  • The repayment deadline to qualify for partial loan forgiveness is extended by a year to December 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

“Our advocacy for government support continues to strengthen throughout the COVID-19 health and economic crisis,” says Paradis. “We are pleased that our advocacy was successful with the federal government, the Ontario government and TICO.”