Australia’s struggling travel agents have so far received emergency support of $33-million from the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.
The payments to date cover more than 800 agencies, with claims from a further 1,500 currently being processed.
The program provides a one-off grant ranging from $1,500 up to $100,000 to support travel agents impacted by the pandemic and consequent collapse of business and leisure travel.
Grant size depends on GST turnover
To be considered, travel agents must have had an annual GST turnover of $50,000 to $20-million in the 2019 calendar year. The size of the grant depends on this GST turnover.
According to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), travel agencies have been the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to Covid, the industry experienced year-on-year growth of 11% and maintained growth of 7.25% over the past five years.
Around 70% of international travel in Australia is booked through travel agents, keeping money in the country and generating taxes to benefit the local economy.
Dealing with extraordinary challenges
Tourism minister Dan Tehan said the government was committed to supporting travel agents as they deal with the extraordinary challenge of the pandemic.
“I encourage all travel agents who haven’t applied yet to go online and start an application. There are more than 2,500 small businesses with turnover below $500,000 who are eligible, but many may not yet have applied.
“Providing support to travel agents will also protect Australians who have cancelled travel plans and hold credit with agencies,” Tehan said.
Program complements other measures
The program was designed in consultation with AFTA and aims to complements around $700-million in support already provided through measures such as JobKeeper, PAYG cashflow boosts, and loss carry-back provisions.
Eligible businesses have until midnight on 13 March 2021 to lodge a claim for the one-off grant.
AFTA says that, in 2018-19, Australians spent over $46-billion on international travel, representing the largest import sector of the Australian economy.
Travel agencies are predominantly independently owned small businesses and more than 70% of people working in the sector are female.