ASTA on Tuesday released its official relief requests to Congress relating to the Covid-19 coronavirus’ impact on travel agencies. ASTA wants a total of $13.7 billion in loans and grants and additional funding for Small Business Administration loans.

“Discussions about targeted financial relief for the travel sector are fast-moving with requests ranging from $58 billion from passenger and cargo airlines to $10 billion for U.S. airports,” ASTA said in its request. “We feel strongly that any targeted relief for the travel industry should be open to travel agencies and not simply limited to the largest companies in the industry.”

If the largest companies survive but small businesses, like those owned by travel advisors, fail, it would be an “unacceptable outcome,” the Society said.

ASTA is specifically asking for $7.7 billion in grants this year. ASTA calls it a “conservative” amount.

The Society is also asking for up to $6 billion in zero-interest loans for travel advisors. The figure is based on Airlines for America’s $29 billion request for loans for the U.S. airline industry, adjusted proportionally, ASTA said.

ASTA is asking for additional funding of SBA loans, and “immediate action” so the first batch of loans -- providing around $7 billion via the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 -- can quickly make their way to businesses.

To that end, the Society asked Congress to fund the president’s request for an additional $50 billion in SBA loans, reduce or waive loan collateral requirements, and broaden eligibility for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (additional state-level steps often result in denials for small businesses, ASTA said).

Finally, ASTA said it supports any and all tax-relief initiatives.

In related news, ASTA said disaster declarations are beginning to roll in, meaning that agencies in some states can apply for SBA loans. On Tuesday afternoon, those states included California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

The Society has created a landing page for coronavirus-related resources and is hosting weekly webinars on Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

ASTA has also created an online grassroots portal to contact legislators about relief for travel advisors.


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