Travel Agents

Agents to receive $75.5 million in support as Tehan releases much needed funds

The federal government will release the remaining $75.5 million of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program, following widespread industry campaigning.

Minister for Tourism Dan Tehan revealed the remaining targeted support for travel agents and tour providers would soon be available under a third round of grants ranging from $90,000 down to $7,500.

The announcement comes despite an Austrade official telling a senate estimates hearing the original $258 million fund was an overestimation of how many businesses would be part of the program and what the income would be.

“We overestimated the number of businesses and their income, which meant that at the end we have $74 million from the allocation that hasn’t been needed,” the official said.

Tehan said the newly released funding would provide support for travel agents to operate as the tourism sector continues its recovery.

“Confidence is growing, Australians are booking holidays with their travel credits and our travel agents are in demand,” he said.

“This targeted program will support travel agents and tour arrangement service providers to meet ongoing costs of running outlets, continue to process rebookings and provide high-quality customer service to their customers.”

Dean Long, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) said securing support for travel agents has been an intense campaigning point for the peak body.

“Australians travelling are relying on their travel professionals now more than ever and this financial support is needed to start the process of rebuilding including replacing the 15,000 highly skilled people lost across Australia due to the financial devastation of COVID-restrictions and travel bans,” Long said.

So far, eligible businesses have received $184 million under the program, with 5,455 grants issued to approximately 3,233 travel agents and tour arrangement service providers.

However, according to AFTA, there have been massive issues with the rollout of the program, including a lack of government understanding of the travel sector, what a travel agency does and how the travel payment process works, as well as inconsistent application of the support program eligibility criteria.

The group said the process for anyone applying for support has been “arduous, stressful and at times cruel”.

“It is critically important that these funds are distributed quickly to those eligible businesses and we believe the revised eligibility framework will facilitate that,” Long added.

“We thank the Minister for taking up our concerns about the initial eligibility framework and implementation of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program and we trust that these issues will not be repeated with the distribution of the remaining $75 million.”

Round 3 of the program is open to businesses who have received a CTSP Round 2 or Round 2 Multi-outlet payment, with a new stream for eligible travel agents and tour providers that commenced operations in 2019 and achieved a pro-rata turnover (not sales) of between $50,000 and $20m during that year.

Applications for the third round of grants will open on 29 March and close on 20 April 2022 and will be assessed on receipt, with payments processed once an application is approved.

For more information visit Austrade’s COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.


Featured image: Facebook/DanTehanWannon



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