The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has welcomed the $17.6 billion coronavirus (COVID-19) support package released by the federal government late last week.
AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said the federal stimulus package will provide some relief to cash flow for travel agencies, but more may be needed.
“AFTA is pleased the federal government is making a solid commitment to sustaining the Australian economy in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.
“Small business lives and dies on cash flow, and this is particularly acute in travel agencies at this time with low to no bookings, and refunds flowing out the door.
“AFTA will drive the guidance process to help support agencies across the country to understand how they can access the funds being made available and if this is not enough, will stand ready to take it up with the Prime Minister directly.”
Specific measures in place that may help assist AFTA members include increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000, effective until 30 June 2020. This will also be expanded to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million.
AFTA members could also benefit from the up to $25,000 being provided to small- and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses.
Furthermore, small businesses have the opportunity to retain their apprentices and trainees by applying for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain a trainee, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs a trainee.
The government grants will be issued automatically, based on business activity statements or instalment activity statements from 28 April 2020.
AFTA also encourages all ATAS accredited travel agency businesses to get in touch with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which can tailor a support plan for their businesses needs and circumstances around the relief options.
AFTA will be releasing a guide on how its members can access support via the stimulus package later this week.
Tourism Accommodation Australia has also responded to the stimulus package, with CEO Michael Johnson saying the industry body would like to see a way in which Australians “are actually rewarded” by holidaying Down Under.
“Whether it becomes taxable to stay locally or government vouchers are distributed to be spent in our regional areas for food and beverage, retail and accommodation, this will stimulate the economy and put funds back where they have been missing out,” he said.