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ASTA Applauds Passage of House Small Business COVID Relief

Alexandria, VA - The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) applauds House passage of the amended version of H.R. 3807 (the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022), which would provide pandemic relief to those most in need through an industry-neutral approach long advocated for by ASTA. Read ASTA’s full letter to House members here.

“The travel industry was the first hit by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover,” commented Eben Peck, ASTA Executive Vice President, Advocacy. “According to recent ASTA member surveys, the average travel agency revenue levels are still down 71 percent compared to 2019. In addition to advocating for dedicated support for travel agencies, ASTA has consistently championed an industry-neutral approach to pandemic relief, where the businesses most severely impacted by COVID receive priority in obtaining financial assistance. This bill does exactly that, and we commend House Small Business Committee Chair Velazquez and Rep. Dean Phillips for their support for this comprehensive approach.

“Given the severity and longevity of the financial losses suffered by travel advisors and other travel-reliant small businesses, passage of this legislation is imperative to getting these businesses back on their feet and contributing to our country’s economic recovery. While it will take several years for the travel agency industry to return to health, we believe this bill, coupled with modifying the CDC’s international air travel testing rule, will help speed this recovery and put travel agencies in a position to better serve the traveling public,” Peck continued.

“As the Senate considers its own version of pandemic relief, ASTA strongly urges Senators to adopt a similar industry-neutral approach instead of pursuing legislation where winners and losers are cherry picked by Congress across the varying sectors affected by the pandemic. Doing so leaves travel advisors (and many other sectors) by the wayside, and the traveling public without the assistance it needs to navigate ever-changing rules and restrictions,” Peck concluded.

By way of background, the bill sets aside $13 billion for a new Hard Hit Industries Awards Program to provide grants to small businesses across all industries that were the hardest hit by the pandemic but ineligible for relief under either the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) or the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program. The legislation also would provide $42 billion to replenish the RRF.

To qualify for a grant under the new program, a business must currently have no more than 200 employees and have suffered a pandemic-related revenue loss of at least 40 percent in 2020 and 2021 (averaged) as compared with 2019. Independent contractors and other self-employed persons are eligible if they meet the revenue loss threshold. Grants of up to $1 million are authorized, though award amounts may be reduced if demand exceeds the funding. Additionally, the revenue loss calculation would be reduced by the amount of any grant previously received by the applicant under the Paycheck Protection Program and/or EIDL program. 

To ensure that the funds are allocated to the businesses with the greatest need, the program establishes a system whereby entities with an 80 percent or greater revenue loss receive priority, followed by those experiencing losses of 60 percent. Proceeds may be used to cover, among other things, payroll costs, payments to independent contractors, mortgage or rent payments, utilities and other operational expenses.

In tandem with our efforts to provide direct relief to travel agencies, ASTA has long championed the concept of industry-neutral relief, and was a founding member of the Economic Bridge Coalition (EBC), a group of 17 trade associations with members across a broad spectrum of industries supporting congressional action to establish and maintain a stable, long-term, industry-neutral capital fund within the SBA.

Click here for a copy of the EBC letter to Congre



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 our mission statement.  




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