August 6, 2020
Alexandria, VA, August 6, 2020 – Zane Kerby, President & CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), releases the following statement in response to member survey data showing financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) throughout the travel agency sector:
“All businesses in the country have been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another, but few sectors have been as hard hit, or face a longer road to recovery, than the travel agency industry. With more than 90 percent of our members reporting revenue down 75 percent or more versus 2019, layoffs and furloughs spread wide throughout the industry and a projected three-to-12 month lag time in business income returning after bookings resume, It cannot be overstated – these are incredibly difficult times for travel agencies across the country.
It’s hard to imagine, but the situation would have been even worse without the relief programs provided by the CARES Act. Without additional relief from Congress and the federal government, these negative trends will continue and widespread agency closures will become the norm. An astonishing 71.3 percent of travel advisors will be out of business in six months or less without additional relief. This would leave travel suppliers’ main distribution channel crippled, and the traveling public left without access to the critical services that travel planners provide.
“We view this outcome as unacceptable, and call on Congress to include in the next COVID-19 relief bill provisions to prevent it, including the inclusion of travel agencies as eligible recipients in any airline payroll support funding, the RESTART Act to provide long-term forgivable loans to the hardest-hit businesses and an extension at least through the end of the year of expanded unemployment benefits for laid-off agency employees and independent contractors. As the only trade association advocating for travel advisors, we are spending every waking hour making this case to Congress, and encourage anyone who hasn’t yet participated in our grassroots campaign to do so today.”
Between August 4 and 5, 2020, ASTA surveyed its membership on the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on their businesses and the steps governments to help restore them to health. According to the nearly 1,200 respondents:
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.