Travel agents to be handed $128m federal government lifeline

Australian one hundred dollar notes make a full-frame background.

After much toing and froing, the federal government is finally settled on how it plans to help travel agents survive the impacts of COVID-19.

Later today, Federal Trade, Tourism and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham will detail a financial support package to the tune of $128 million for roughly 3,000 to 4,000 agents whose annual turnover is in the vicinity of $50,000 and $20 million, according to The Australian.

Those businesses down towards the bottom of that turnover bracket will be eligible to collect a minimum one-off payment of $1,500, and those at the top end will be able to claim the maximum payment of $100,000.

Senator Birmingham told The Australian that the one-off payment acknowledges the “exceptional set of circumstances” that agents are operating in, where most are having to refund last year’s income while continuing to work with no additional money coming in.

“Providing further assistance to travel agents in the current ­environment will help keep them afloat at a time when they are continuing to hold travel credits for consumers who have previously cancelled travel,” he said.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chief executive Darren Rudd posted on LinkedIn this morning that more details on the package will be revealed later today.

“Full credit to the AFTA chairman, board, extended AFTA staff and the wider travel agent, tour operator and wholesaler community for this the start of reforming, rebuilding and restoring the travel sector to beyond its former strength and impact!” he wrote.

Rudd revealed that an agent rescue package from the federal government was imminent at Travel DAZE 2020 last month, and described it as a “frustratingly slow” process when it wasn’t announced within the expected timeline in November.

The federation was lobbying for a 12-month – rather than an 18-month – bridge back to business, and essentially moved from a $125 million ask for sector-specific support to a $250 million ask.

Travel Weekly has contacted AFTA for further comment.

Image source: iStock/robynmac

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