ACTA Seeing Results From Lobbying Campaign

Good news is somewhat hard to find these days, but ACTA says that it has been buoyed by the results it is seeing from its extensive lobbying efforts with all levels of government across the country and around the world.

As well, ACTA has seen good results from its newly launched letter writing campaign and it has weighed in on the issue of refunds and future travel vouchers.

In terms of its lobbying efforts, the association has recommended a range of actions needed to help travel agencies, their employees and independent agents that included:

  • Access to zero interest/low interest business loans
  • Relief for payroll taxes
  • The addition of immediate special measures to the Work-Share program
  • And emergency support for the self-employed (independent contractors who make up 35% of travel agents) and who are not normally eligible for Employment Insurance.

ACTA president, Wendy Paradis observed that the association is “very pleased” with what the government has approved so far, but she also indicated that ACTA “will continue to lobby for more and to ensure that travel agencies and travel agents are recognized as being an important sector that has been severely impacted by COVID-19 measures.”

Paradis continued that: “While we are pleased with some of the financial supports announced by the federal government, ACTA is asking the federal government to support travel agency businesses and workers in the amount of $3 billion in financial aid to weather the storm.”

And ACTA’s president added that the association “has advised the government that it expects that Canadian travel agencies be treated equally in any sector specific aid packages.”

She noted that in the United States, travel agencies have been included in a $25 billion economic stabilization loan for airlines. This is in the form of loans, loan guarantees and other investments to support airlines, travel agencies and other related aviation businesses

More from ACTA

In other news from ACTA, the association reports that its letter campaign has already seen over 2,000 letters sent to the Prime Minister, the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee Members, MPs, MPPs, and MLA’s since it asked members to write their representatives.

And ACTA wants agents to keep it up as the campaign has definitely been noticed.

“We’d also like to thank all of our member travel agents and agencies across Canada who are taking the initiative to show how invaluable travel agents have been throughout this crisis in a variety of creative tools.  This has been helpful in our lobbying efforts,” said Paradis.

A thorny issue

As for the thorny issue of refunds and future travel vouchers, ACTA notes that it has been involved in the global discussions surrounding the refund problem.

Paradis observes: “We know that the Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a statement which states: ‘The CTA believes that, generally speaking, an appropriate approach in the current context could be for airlines to provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel, as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time (24 months would be considered reasonable in most cases).’”

And ACTA’s president added: “The Travel Industry Council of Ontario also references on their website that further to Section 40, offering a full immediate refund or comparable alternative services does not apply in this current situation as it is deemed a force majeure.  Customers are subject to the terms and condition of the booking.”

In other countries around the world, like Belgium, legislation has been introduced on the sale of package holidays that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis with language stating: “… the tour operator is entitled to provide the traveller with a voucher worth the amount paid instead of a refund” … and “the traveller cannot refuse the voucher that meets the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 .…”

ACTA also notes that the Credit Card issue is another critical concern for the travel industry and its travel agency members.

The association says that ACTA along with other key industry stakeholders have been in contact with the Federal Government at the highest levels to tackle this challenge.

And it wraps up, noting that ACTA will continue to keep our members up to date on our progress in regards to the priority issues facing our industry.