Top agency executive tells Senate panel: We need more help

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Drew Daley testified before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, where he urged Congress to provide more financial help to travel agencies.
Drew Daley testified before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, where he urged Congress to provide more financial help to travel agencies.

Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager of CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc., encouraged the federal government to provide further aid for the hard-hit travel agency community during his testimony before the senate's subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion on Tuesday.

"I promise, travel advisors are certainly going to play a key role in helping get Americans traveling again and boosting economic recovery across the entire country," Daly said. "We need to ensure that these businesses and their workers can survive the remaining challenges presented by the pandemic overall."

Daly spoke to the panel about the evolution of "travel agents" to "travel advisors" and said many of the tens of thousands of advisors in the U.S. work from home serving their neighborhoods and communities. He explained, too, how advisors are paid: Their commissions most often arrive after their customer travels, hence the need for protracted relief measures for agencies.

A former chair of CLIA's Strategic Trade Advisory and Review Board, Daly was asked to testify by CLIA on behalf of travel advisors and the cruise industry.

He told senators that the nearly 16-month pause of cruising in the U.S. has been particularly troublesome for many advisors. He pointed out that 78% of all cruises are booked by agents, and cruising in turn accounts for a large portion of their businesses. Today, more than 70% of cruise bookings being made are for 2022 and beyond, meaning the travel advisors will not get paid for another year for that work.

Daly urged Congress to enact policies that will spur travel demand as well as extend targeted relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, which he said provided "much-needed lifelines" to sectors that will take longer to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

UPDATED: This report was updated on May 26 to note that Daly is a former chair of CLIA's Strategic Trade Advisory and Review Board and was asked to testify by the association.

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