Get Us in Your Inbox
WhatAfter eight months of gridlock, U.S. lawmakers passed a $900 billion federal COVID-19 relief package late last month that includes several travel advisor-friendly provisions, including increased funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an expansion to the Employee Retention Tax Credit, an extension on statewide unemployment benefits and more. But the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is also pushing for additional initiatives in 2021, including specific funding allotted for travel agencies; a travel tax credit to stimulate the economy; a COVID-19 liability shield for travel businesses facing legal threats; a harmonized set of global and national travel restrictions; and mask mandates on all commercial flights.
RELATED: The 6 Things to Know About the New $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package
Why It MattersThe year 2020 may be behind us, but its economic fallout is still on center stage. Now that Democrats have control of both chambers of Congress, thanks to the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs, ASTA is optimistic about the possibility of a bigger federal relief bill within the first quarter of this year (and perhaps as early as February). In the meantime, the association is recommending that advisors take advantage of the “breathing room” provided by last month’s bill in three ways: Going to their banks to close out their first PPP loan and applying for a second; contacting accountants to ensure they are receiving favorable tax treatment for 2020; and researching opportunities for additional relief on a statewide level by applying for extended unemployment benefits or small business grant programs.
The Georgia elections changed the landscape pretty substantially ... My sense is that they are going to want to do big things early in the year.
Fast Facts- In addition to the aforementioned COVID-19-related priorities, ASTA is planning to monitor travel restrictions to Cuba and fight for friendlier rulings for independent contractors (an issue handled by the U.S. Department of Labor) down the road.
- If ASTA members want to contact the organization with additional questions, they can do so by visiting the members-only portal at www.asta.org/covid19member or by emailing [email protected] The association is especially interested in hearing from advisors who have had their original PPP loans forgiven.
What They Are Saying“The Georgia elections changed the landscape pretty substantially,” said Eben Peck, executive vice president of advocacy for ASTA. “My sense is that they are going to want to do big things early in the year. In 2010 with the [Affordable Care Act], they spent a year and a half on it, and it got really bogged down. [Now], they are going to want to come strong out of the gate. So, I think it could happen pretty soon.”
“I am optimistic for 2021, especially the second half of the year,” he added. “We are doing everything we can to get our members across the bridge using federal assistance, state assistance, speeding up supplier compensation and getting them to that promised land on the other side of the river.”
The DetailsAmerican Society of Travel Advisorswww.asta.org