The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is once again ringing the alarm about the future of the Canadian travel industry.
According to a survey conducted by ACTA in July, 26% of members owe at least $100,000 CAD, 56% owe at least $50,000 CAD, and 80% owe at least $10,000 CAD—and they aren’t confident they’ll be able to pay by Dec. 31.
“We have been hearing from ACTA Members for several months now that although business is recovering, they are very concerned about the debt load they are carrying as a result of the pandemic,” Wendy Paradis, ACTA president said in a statement this week.
The survey asked about three specific federal loans that are due by the end of 2023—the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Regional Relief Recovery Fund (RRRF), and the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP). According to the results, half of all advisors are still recovering from the pandemic, 15% said that loan repayment terms are difficult to meet, and 67% said that they are not confident they can repay the loans by Dec. 31.
Perhaps more distressing is that 36% of all said that they think it is likely or somewhat likely that they will close within three years.
Right now, travel business owners say that they would like to see more loan and debt forgiveness (72% of the survey said so) or a longer period to pay (16% said so). ACTA, for its part, is recommending that the federal government extend the CEBA interest-free repayment deadline by two years, modify the terms of both the RRF and HSACAP programs to allow more time for repayment, and work with industry to explore other forgiveness measures.
To help, ACTA is launching an industry-wide letter campaign, calling specifically on the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance, to provide more time for federal loans to be repaid.
The campaign runs through Sept. 29—all members, and non-members, are asked to send letters to their own Member of Parliament and to Minister Freeland. ACTA is making a sample letter available that will auto-fill with your own address here.
ACTA, which is working closely with TICO, is also promising to continue its advocacy through the fall, including through some consumer news media and social media campaigns, along with other formal submissions to the federal and provincial government.