Friday, 3 Jul 2020

ASTA requests more than 13 billion for travel agencies coronavirus

ASTA on Tuesday released its official relief requests to
Congress relating to the Covid-19 coronavirus’ impact on travel agencies. ASTA wants
a total of $13.7 billion in loans and grants and additional funding for Small
Business Administration loans.

“Discussions about targeted financial relief for the travel
sector are fast-moving with requests ranging from $58 billion from passenger
and cargo airlines to $10 billion for U.S. airports,” ASTA said in its request.
“We feel strongly that any targeted relief for the travel industry should be
open to travel agencies and not simply limited to the largest companies in the
industry.”

If the largest companies survive but small businesses, like
those owned by travel advisors, fail, it would be an “unacceptable outcome,”
the Society said.

ASTA is specifically asking for $7.7 billion in grants this
year. ASTA calls it a “conservative” amount.

The Society is also asking for up to $6 billion in
zero-interest loans for travel advisors. The figure is based on Airlines for
America’s $29 billion request for loans for the U.S. airline industry, adjusted
proportionally, ASTA said.

ASTA is asking for additional funding of SBA loans, and “immediate
action” so the first batch of loans — providing around $7 billion via the
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 —
can quickly make their way to businesses.

To that end, the Society asked Congress to fund the
president’s request for an additional $50 billion in SBA loans, reduce or waive
loan collateral requirements, and broaden eligibility for SBA’s Economic Injury
Disaster Loans (additional state-level steps often result in denials for small
businesses, ASTA said).

Finally, ASTA said it supports any and all tax-relief
initiatives.

In related news, ASTA said disaster declarations are
beginning to roll in, meaning that agencies in some states can apply for SBA loans. On Tuesday
afternoon, those states included California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Maine,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

The Society has created a landing page for
coronavirus-related resources
and is hosting weekly webinars
on Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

ASTA has also created an online grassroots portal to contact legislators about relief for travel advisors.

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