Travel agents with a turnover of between $50,000 and $20 million will be offered a one-off payment in recognition that many continue to work hard processing refunds while unable to trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Payments will be scaled, with a minimum payment of $1,500 for a business with a turnover of $50,000 up to a maximum payment of $100,000 for a business with a turnover of $20 million, tourism minister Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday.
“This one-off payment recognises that travel agents are operating in an exceptional set of circumstances where most are having to refund last year’s income while continuing to work with no additional income,” Minister Birmingham said.
“Providing further assistance to travel agents in the current environment will help keep them afloat at a time when they are continuing to hold travel credits for consumers who have previously cancelled travel.”
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents was quick to applaud the announcement.
“We are delighted that the Morrison government has acknowledged the unique and challenging circumstances that travel agents have been confronted with,” CEO Darren Rudd said.
“This package will help to ensure the sector’s sustainability to assist Australian travellers with the new world of COVID-safe travel.”
Last month, the small business ombudsman called for an urgent response from the government regarding a critical support package for travel agents who she said have been “decimated” by the COVID crisis.
Kate Carnell said at the time that close to 1,300 distressed travel agents had completed an online ASBFEO survey and that all were clinging by a thread as they waited to hear if there will be a lifeline announced by the government.
“These travel agents, most of whom are small businesses, need help now,” Ms Carnell said at the time.
The survey showed that the situation is dire for these travel agents — 98 per cent of them said their revenue had plunged by more than 75 per cent since COVID restrictions were introduced in March.
More than half told the ASBFEO their revenue had suffered 100 per cent, meaning that they had been paying out more in refunds, including previously made revenue, than selling in new business.