The federal government has released further details about its $128 million lifeline for travel agents, including when they will be able to claim for support.
Under the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program, eligible travel agents and tour-arranging service businesses will be able to apply for a one-off taxable payment.
Payments will be scaled based on the turnover of the business, with a minimum payment of $1,500 for a business with a turnover of $50,000 up to a maximum payment of $100,000 for a business with a turnover of $20 million.
To be eligible for a payment, a business will need to have been operating as either an agent or tour arrangement service provider prior to the announcement of the closure of international borders on 19 March 2020.
Eligible businesses will need to have also had an annual turnover starting from $50,000 up to a maximum of $20 million for the 2019 calendar year, and received a payment for a JobKeeper fortnight ending in October 2020 (so, either from 28 September to 11 October and/or 12 October to 25 October).
According to the Austrade website, eligible businesses will be able to apply for a claim from today (Monday 14 December). Applications will be accepted until midnight (AEDT) on 13 March 2021 or until funds are exhausted.
Claims will be processed and administered by Services Australia through its Business Hub. More information, including eligibility and how to apply, is available from Services Australia.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Darren Rudd said: “Australia’s travel agents and tour operators who have been so devastated by COVID are incredibly grateful for this support and for the government’s responsiveness from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham in making this grant possible.
“Given the numerous constructive, collaborative conversations had to date with government, AFTA hopes this measure is the first of a number of support mechanisms, including the tailored evolution of JobKeeper for our sector.
“As the Prime Minister himself has acknowledged in Question Time recently, travel agents will need ongoing support for some time.
“AFTA looks forward to continuing to work closely with government and government agencies to ensure the implementation detail is right and that those travel agencies, tour operators and tour wholesalers who are unable to access funding through corporate debt raising receive the ongoing support they need to stay in business and continue to support their employees, clients and customers.”
The federation recently met with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to advance discussions with the government on the potential extension of JobKeeper for agents.
AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd and his team also discussed a range of other “critical initiatives” with Australia’s Deputy PM “to help reform and rebuild the sector to its former strength and restore consumer confidence in travel”, according to a LinkedIn update by the federation.
[PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE PUBLISHING TO INCLUDE COMMENTARY FROM AFTA].