Key details emerge about government’s additional $130m for travel agents

Covid-19 relief file folder

After announcing an extension of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program late last week, the federal government has released some important details about its second round of funding for travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers.

An additional $130 million was announced last week as part of Austrade’s extended funding program (for a further three months beyond 13 March) to help give eligible agents breathing space to facilitate customer refunds and follow up travel credits.

Both the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and the Council of Australian Tour Operators confirmed to Travel Weekly that several key changes have been made to the second round of the program as a result of industry feedback.

Payments under round two of Austrade’s program will automatically apply to businesses successful under round one who reported GST turnover on the G1 line of their business activity statement.

No additional payments under round two will be made to those who it is determined were paid under total transaction value in round one.

The number of turnover tiers used to calculate payments will be reduced from 41 to seven, with eligible businesses to receive between $5,000 up to $100,000 per eligible application.

Businesses with sales over $500,000 and less than $20 million seeking a round-two payment will be subject to an audit. It is understood this change will further ensure only those who were paid on the basis of GST turnover in round one are eligible for round two.

The government will continue to consult with the travel industry to finalise the conditions of its program extension, with further info and updates to be provided on the Austrade website shortly, including the expected timeline for round two.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Darren Rudd said the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program was an important lifeline to help agents, tour operators and wholesalers get through the next three months while vaccines roll out and Australia prepares to restart international travel.

“JobKeeper has been a lifeline for so many businesses small, medium and large, and we thank the Morrison-McCormack government for that,” he said.

“With revenue drops across most travel businesses of more than 90 per cent and many cases close to 100 per cent, this will help bridge the gap between now and when international travel resumes.

“Travel agents continue to work on the repatriation of over $4 billion in outstanding credits and refunds for Australians and are looking forward to rebuilding and restoring the industry over the year ahead.

“We look forward to working with the government on the design parameters of this lifeline to ensure a fair and equitable distribution across the many thousands of impacted businesses in our sector around the country.

“We thank the Coalition government for its ongoing commitment and support, and for the commitment to working with industry to refine the conditions and make the necessary adjustments to the program.”

Featured image source: iStock/oonal

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