Survey: Canadians in favour of continued aid for travel agent businesses

TORONTO — The majority of Canadians are in favour of extending financial aid for travel agents, says a new survey.

According to Mainstreet Research, which polled 1,291 Canadians from June 12-14, 2021, 58.7% of voters support continued wage, rent and other subsidies for travel agent businesses. The survey, commissioned by ACTA, examined the impacts of COVID-19 on travel plans and what voters want to ensure the security of Canada’s travel sector. 

“We were pleased to see that voters of all political stripes and demographics support continued federal support to travel-related sectors, helping ensure a stable and competitive industry for the upcoming recovery,” said Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which travel agencies and other travel businesses have heavily relied on throughout the pandemic, will both come to an end in September. ACTA has noted that many businesses will not survive without these programs in place. 

As part of its ongoing advocacy efforts, ACTA will be making all MPs aware of these new survey results, reminding them that in 2019 travel agent businesses generated nearly $3 billion in revenue and supported 24,000 jobs. Most are small businesses and sole proprietors, and 75% identify as women. 

Also worth highlighting is the fact that over 800 permanent storefront travel agencies have closed since the start of the pandemic, and that 75% of ACTA members report being on the verge of bankruptcy if it weren’t for government support programs. According to ACTA, travel agent businesses have been operating at near zero revenue throughout the pandemic, even while working to process government-mandated refunds and future travel credits.

“We are encouraged that there is hope for a significant rebound of travel once the pandemic concerns are behind us,” added Paradis. “Travel agents are already seeing an uptick in bookings for this winter and next year and this survey certainly supports increased demand coming soon.

“However, travel restrictions and advisories remain, and travel agent businesses will need continued federal support at full levels and for 90 days after restrictions and advisories are lifted to survive continued months of little to no revenue.”

Other key highlights of the survey include: 

  • 58.7% of Canadians support continuing federal subsidies to travel-related industries, with strong support among all parties by voter intention (including undecided voters) and demographics
  • 40% booked travel that was cancelled because of the pandemic
  • 61% say they plan to travel once restrictions are lifted
  • One in five Canadians say that once restrictions are lifted, they will travel more than they did before the pandemic

ACTA is encouraging all travel agents to participate in the ‘Call to Action’ issued earlier this month by calling and requesting an in-person meeting with MPs to discuss the importance of extending the government subsidy programs, including these latest survey results. ACTA is also asking agents to share their story with local papers and on social media, and to let ACTA know about their advocacy efforts so that the organization can, in turn, amplify the message.