The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is asking travel advisors to contact their Members of Congress to help secure additional COVID-19 relief.
Congress is in the early stages of putting together the next big stimulus package, which is expected to be complete by early August, and ASTA is again making a push for the travel trade, one of the most heavily hit industries by COVID-19, to have a seat at the table.
ASTA is lobbying for the RESTART Act (S. 3814), a new loan program for the hardest-hit industries, the JOBS Credit Act (H.R. 6776), which expands the CARES Act's Employee Retention Tax Credit, and the American TRIP Act (S. 4031), which creates a temporary travel tax credit, to be included in the bill.
Travel advisors can use ASTA’s easy-to-complete form to contact their Members of Congress, although phone calls are most effective.
Relief measures from the CARES Act are set to expire soon. The bill, which was enacted at the end of March, provided several financial relief options for travel agencies and independent advisors to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to survey data from ASTA, the travel agency community expects to lose at least $7.7 billion in revenue this year, representing a contraction of more than 50%, and more than half of U.S. travel agencies, 98% of which are small businesses under the Small Business Administration's standard, will go out of business by September if current conditions hold.
One of those programs, the Paycheck Protection Program, has been granted an extension – allowing small businesses to continue to apply through August. Other changes to the program will likely be tied to the next stimulus package.
Congress members have also introduced a measure to extend the extra $600 a week to everyone in the country who applied for unemployment insurance past July 31. As long as unemployment remains above 11%, $600 bonuses would remain in place. As the unemployment in each state drops, the bonus would reduce by $100 dollars for each percentage point.
Lawmakers are expected to get back to crafting the relief package when they return from a two-week recess in late July.