ASTA Outlines Priorities for More COVID-19 Relief

ASTA’s most recent survey results show the progress of CARES Act relief programs. While more advisors are receiving some form of money from the act, whether through unemployment benefits or relief loans, many find the processes put in place difficult to navigate.

This is the second survey that tracks member experiences with the various relief programs available to travel advisors through the CARES Act, and 600 members responded.

According to the results, many more advisors had received money from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Nearly 65 percent of the travel advisors replying to the survey said that they had applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

More than 52 percent had now been approved for a loan versus 20.1 percent on April 20.

Still, many advisors reported that the process to get the assistance was a struggle. Nearly 34 percent said that they found the process very difficult, 28.7 percent moderately difficult and 20.1 percent somewhat difficult.

Finding an institution from which they could get financing was also hard. Just over 38 percent had difficulty in finding a bank, credit union or other financial institution that was willing to accept their application.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans were another common form of relief for travel advisors. However, while 61.7 percent had applied for EIDL relief, just 25.9 percent had been approved for a loan. That is up from 7.1 percent on April 20, 2020, when the survey was first conducted.

Nearly 30 percent found the process very difficult; 20.7 percent found it moderately difficult, and 16.8 percent said it was somewhat difficult.

Unemployment benefits were the most common form of relief. Seventy-six percent of travel advisors had applied. Just over 33 percent had been approved versus 13.8 percent in the first wave of the survey.

Nearly 53 percent reported that the process was very difficult; 21.2 percent said it was moderately difficult, and 15.1 percent said somewhat difficult.

Based on member feedback, ASTA has outlined its priorities for the next coronavirus relief package.

ASTA is requesting that Section 4112 of the CARES Act be amended to provide payroll support payments to “ticket agents and that the funding authorized be increased by $7.7 billion to allow for these payments.

ASTA is also requesting that funding for PPP is increased to $900 billion and is extended through December 30, 2020. It is also asking that the program’s loan threshold be increased from 250 percent of monthly payroll to 400 percent of all business expenses among other requests that include extending loan forgiveness and increasing the employee cap.

The association is requesting additional funding for ticket agent loans as well.

“While we expect the majority of our membership to avail themselves of other relief options in the CARES Act over the coming weeks and months – the PPP in particular – given the scale of the disruption to our part of the travel industry we believe there will be intense demand for relief under this program, which started accepting applications on April 8,” ASTA detailed in its recommendation.

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