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Travel Agent Support Program: $118m Paid, Far More Needed

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has released an update on the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program outlining the number of payments made to travel agents since the program began in mid-December 2020.

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has released an update on the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program outlining the number of payments made to travel agents since the program began in mid-December 2020.

According to the latest federal government data, $98.6 million in the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program funding was paid in Round One, with 2,964 travel agents receiving payments under the program, and another 172 claims still being processed.

In the first round, one-off payments ranged from a minimum payment of $1,500 to $100,000 depending on the turnover of the business. Exceptional circumstance claims continue to be assessed.

Since Round Two went live on May 2, the federal government says $19.5 million in grant funding has been paid with 945 travel agents receiving payments.

Under Round Two, grant payments range from a minimum of $7,500 to a maximum of $100,000. Grants are based on the eligible turnover amount as determined under Round One.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the Government had worked closely with the sector to deliver targeted support.

“The Government has worked closely with the peak bodies representing travel agents—the Australian Federation of Travel Agents Limited (AFTA), Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) — to enhance round two of the  COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.

“We have been working with these industry associations to ensure the delivery of effective and efficient support packages targeted to those industries impacted by the economic fallout of COVID-19.” Mr Tehan said.

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Tom Manwaring, AFTA Chair

Off the back of the budget announcement a fortnight ago, AFTA had warned that without ongoing support until international travel resumes in mid-2022 as forecasted by the government, travel agents and businesses will be forced to shut, ‘erasing a critical part of the infrastructure that supports corporate and leisure travel and Australians visiting family and relatives overseas.’

AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring said, “Our sector has already shrunk from 40,000 to 25,000 even with Federal Government support via the $258m COVID Consumer Travel Support Program directed to small and medium travel agencies. Ongoing government support and safe travel via travel zones will sustain our sector through the predicted international ban to mid-2022 and ensure we are here to help restart the economy as we return to normal.”

As such, AFTA says it is continuing to lobby for continuing support, including the extension of the grants program, resumption of international travel using measures that balance safety with the pressing economic imperative, especially for Australian businesses to travel internationally and greater recognition of the value of the travel agency distribution model and service in supporting the Australian leisure and corporate communities.

For more information, visit the Austrade website: COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.