ASTA president Zane Kirby is calling on travel agents to be loud and proud during these difficult times.
Kirby told an ASTA webinar on international travel that travel agents haven’t made their voices heard as clearly about their financial plight during the coronavirus pandemic as some other segments of the travel industry, something he views as a mistake.
“We need to be just as visible, vocal and present,” he said while calling on agents to contact elected officials and making their concerns known. “We have the numbers to do it (make an impact).”
ACTA president Wendy Paradis in turn told the same webinar that most of this country’s travel agents have been furloughed because of coronavirus.
Agents who are still at work are now seeing a rise in bookings but the spread of the Delta variant could jeopardize that increase, she warned.
Paradis said that government financial support measures introduced for businesses that saw revenues plummet because of coronavirus should be extended beyond October for travel agencies, adding, “ We cannot take on more debts.”
Support measures should not only continue “but be enhanced,” she added.
Kirby added that much of the American public is “desperate” to again travel and said American agents “have to cozy up” to potential customers.
Kirby called on agents to “promote the safe resumption of international travel while condemning what he labelled a “patchwork” of international travel regulations.
He said travel agency associations should ask for more transparency from governments.
Some 175 million Americans have been vaccinated against coronavirus but many foreign governments have been treating all Americans wishing to travel as if they’re unvaccinated.
“We think this has to change,” said Kirby, adding agents need to “link arms to speed the recovery of travel.”