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Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ASTA seeks financial assistance for agencies

The American Society of Travel Advisors is the latest travel industry trade group seeking financial aid from the government.

ASTA is asking Congress for aid to safeguard the immediate future of members, which are mostly small businesses with little or no cash reserves.

It says 98% of travel agencies are classed as small businesses.

The industry employs more than 100,000 at retail locations and an additional 40,000 are self-employed independent contractors.

According to ASTA more than half said they do not expect to survive the downturn in business brought on by coronavirus if it continues for more than six months.

"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," ASTA said.

"A scenario where the largest travel companies survive and recover from this crisis while the thousands of overwhelmingly small businesses that distribute their products are allowed to fail is unacceptable."

ASTA is seeking a range of financial assistance models.

It wants $7.7 billion in grants for ticketing agents to compensate for reduced liquidity.

In addition it is requesting zero interest loan facilities amounting to up $6 billion.

"We support any and all tax relief initiatives like payroll tax suspension and deferrals. The more these measures are targeted at travel industry businesses and/or small businesses, the better," ASTA said.

ASTA is fully supportive of President Donald Trump's request for an additional $50 billion in small business loans.

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