In a win for travel agents across Australia, the federal government has announced additional targeted support for the sector.
Eligible Australian travel agents and tour arrangement service providers with multiple shopfronts or retail premises are being invited to apply for a one-off $10,000 funding boost for each of their outlets.
However, only owners of multiple-outlet businesses that have already been supported by the government’s $258 million COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program are able to apply.
The additional government funding is on top of support provided to agents through the Consumer Travel Support Program, JobKeeper and business support grants.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the funding boost recognised the financial challenges facing agents.
“Australia is closing in on its vaccination targets that will trigger the reopening of borders and the resumption of travel as agreed in the national plan,” he said.
“Australians have made great sacrifices in our fight against COVID-19 and they’re looking forward to travelling again to see family and friends and take a holiday.
“When Australians can travel again, our travel agents will be busy people, and our government is supporting them to be prepared to meet that demand.
“We are working with industry associations to ensure effective support is provided to industries impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“The $10,000 grant will support eligible businesses to meet the additional costs of running individual shopfront or retail outlets that continue to operate as part of a larger group.”
Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chair Tom Manwaring welcomed the additional government funding, but warned that more support is needed until international travel normalises.
“There are a number of our members who have multiple shopfronts under a single ABN who haven’t been eligible for support on a store-by-store basis until now, so this additional support is very welcome for those businesses,” he said.
“However, Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for more than 600 days, and until airlines and cruise capacity returns to normal levels, we will continue to be in lockdown.
“Until international travel normalises, the 30,000 Australians who work in Australia’s travel sector and the 3,000 agencies and businesses who employ them urgently need ongoing help.
“As so many Australians have discovered during COVID, travel agents are essential and even more important given the challenges of travelling internationally, given the morass of differing requirements. Without a travel agent, you really are on your own.”
“Even when international travel resumes, there will be an economic hangover for our sector of several months, well into 2022 before revenue streams return, let alone return at a sustainable level.
“AFTA continues to make the case for ongoing support including through the extension of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support grant program into round three and beyond to the federal government.”
Applications for the government’s multi-outlet grants close at 11:59pm (AEDT) on 3 November. For more info, click here.
Featured image source: iStock/selensergen