ASTA is signed on to the bipartisan bill passed in Congress that will provide much-needed relief for airline passengers denied boarding because of overbooking. The legislation, which was co-sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), grants airlines a waiver from COVID if they can show evidence of “unjustifiable economic hardship.”
The “grants for travel agents” is a bill that has passed the House and Senate. The bill will allow for more funding for travel agents who are currently struggling with COVID.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) applauds the passing of a new measure that will give more assistance to small companies that have been particularly severely struck by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The House of Representatives approved the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022, and the Senate will now debate its own bill.
The ASTA applauded the House measure for being industry-neutral.
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“The tourism sector was the first to be struck by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover,” ASTA executive vice president, advocacy, Eben Peck, said. “According to current ASTA member polls, average travel agency income is still down 71 percent from the previous year.” In addition to campaigning for specialized help for travel agencies, ASTA has long advocated for an industry-neutral approach to pandemic relief, with the most seriously damaged firms receiving precedence in receiving financial aid. This measure does that, and we applaud Chair Velazquez of the House Small Business Committee and Rep. Dean Phillips for their support of this comprehensive approach.”
Peck said that the bill’s passing is “essential” for travel consultants.
“Given the magnitude and duration of financial losses sustained by travel advisers and other travel-dependent small companies, approval of this measure is critical to putting these firms back on their feet and contributing to our country’s economic recovery,” he added. “While the travel agency business will take many years to recover, we think that this measure, together with the CDC’s modification of the international air travel testing requirement, will assist hasten that recovery and put travel agencies in a better position to serve the traveling public.”
In his own version of the bill, Peck encouraged the Senate to take an industry-neutral stance.
“As the Senate examines its own version of pandemic relief, ASTA strongly encourages Senators to take a similar industry-neutral approach rather than pursuing legislation that cherry-picks winners and losers across the many industries impacted by the epidemic.” As a result, travel advisers (and many other industries) will be left behind, and the traveling public will be unable to negotiate ever-changing laws and constraints,” Peck said.
The bill establishes the Hard Hit Industries Awards Program, which will allocate $13 billion in grants to small businesses in all industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic but were not eligible for relief under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) or the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program. The bill also includes $42 billion in funding to refill the RRF.
To be eligible for a grant, firms must employ less than 200 people and have had a pandemic-related income loss of at least 40% in 2020 and 2021 (averaged) compared to 2019.
Independent contractors and self-employed persons are also eligible provided they reach the revenue loss criterion, and the measure enacted by the House authorizes payments of up to $1 million.
ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, has praised the passage of a new law that would provide COVID relief to members. The legislation would also allow for more travel agents to be certified as independent contractors rather than employees. Reference: asta membership.
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