TORONTO — The situation facing the retail travel sector is increasingly dire, prompting a new advocacy campaign from ACTA demanding aid now for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel contractors.
As part of the new campaign ACTA is asking every single agency owner and every travel agent to get involved, to make sure MPs in every part of Canada fully understand what travel retailers are dealing with.
“The financial situation for Canadian travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents is critical. The travel industry is collapsing around us and is in need of urgent, emergency aid NOW or widespread bankruptcies will occur, along with long-term damage to the infrastructure,” says ACTA President Wendy Paradis.
The 14-day quarantine and advisory against non-essential travel have been in place since mid-March 2020, and the PCR test requirement came into effect Jan. 7, 2021.
Now with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message to Canadians to cancel all trips, with warnings of difficulties for travellers returning home, and stricter travel measures to be announced in the next few days, the industry has been plunged into even more dire circumstances, says Paradis.
Part of ACTA’s new advocacy campaign is letting agents know how to connect with their MP to make sure the survival of the retail travel sector stays on the radar for the federal government. ACTA’s advocacy efforts have been underway for more than 10 months and counting. Now individual agents are encouraged to get the message out there too. “Ask to meet with your MP and tell them your personal story on how the pandemic is affecting your business,” said Paradis. “We also encourage you to promote this campaign on social media.”
Details can be found on the ACTA website here.
Email letter templates explaining concerns and to help guide telephone or video meetings are tailored for travel agency owners, travel agency employees and independent travel agents.
The templates are completely customizable, however ACTA is asking for the following to be included (depending on the sender):
1. Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
Almost half of the travel agents in Canada is comprised of self-employed, independent travel agents who are reliant on the CRB program. These benefits run out at the end of March and ACTA is asking the government to extend the CRB program to at least the end of September 2021.
2. The government must recognize the devastating impact of mass refunds by airlines and tour operators – and the unintended consequences of recall of commissions on Canadian travel agencies and travel agents. ACTA is urging the government that additional funds are included in any airline aid package with the condition that travel agency commissions on airline and tour packages cannot be recalled, and for a Fund to cover past bookings already recalled.
3. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The CEWS program has been a lifeline to travel agencies, however with heightened travel restrictions, it is vital that this program continues. ACTA urges the government to increase the wage subsidy to 85% for hardest hit businesses that include travel agencies until the end of summer 2021, and with limited conditions.
4. Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Travel agencies need access to the maximum 90% subsidy regardless of whether they are located in a jurisdiction mandated to be closed by a public health authority. The federal and provincial governments are declaring that Canadians should not travel and therefore, travel agencies must be eligible for the additional 25% top-up of this program.
“ACTA needs every travel agency owner and every travel agent in the country to get behind this campaign and contact their MP – NOW,” said Paradis. “Financial support programs and the federal budgets are currently in development and we need more grassroots support to ensure EVERY MP in Canada knows about the critical support programs we need for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents to survive this crisis.”
“We want to ensure that when Canadians can travel freely again, there is a travel industry to serve them and deliver quality experiences that will fulfil their business and leisure travel desires,” said Paradis.