The Senate on Saturday approved the $1.9 trillion American Bailout Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). It is expected to pass the US House of Representatives this week and land on President Biden’s desk.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) applauded the passage of the bill, but noted that there are critical issues that need to be addressed.
ASTA applauds the provisions of the American Recovery Plan Act that will help travel-oriented companies and the industry as a whole recover from COWID-19, including some that we have relentlessly advocated for since the beginning of the year, Zane Kirby, ASTA president and CEO, said in a statement. These include funding the distribution of vaccines, extending the tax credit through the end of the year with additional benefits for hard-hit businesses, extending through September the increase in unemployment benefits under the CARES Act for laid-off workers and self-employed workers, fully funding the retraining program under the CARES Act, and allocating some state and local funds to support tourism and travel businesses.
Kirby pointed to amendments added by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would have helped travel agencies through a grant program for theater operators and cruise lines operating between Washington and Alaska.
While the U.S. stimulus bill provides some support, it’s clear that our industry needs more, Kerby said in a statement. We were catastrophically affected by COVID-19 and had a longer recovery period than almost any other industry.
ASTA will continue to fight for the survival of tourism consultants.
As we have said on many occasions, when government measures have a disproportionately negative effect on a particular industry, it is in principle fair for the government to provide targeted assistance to the hardest hit businesses. With a principle like our North Star, we will continue to fight for help until the travel agency industry is healthy again, Kirby said.
We tell Congress that the work to save COWIDs is not over. Through no fault of their own, the men and women who are our members – your constituents – are at risk of losing their livelihoods and desperately need your support. At a minimum, the wage protection program should be extended to the hardest hit industries, and the subsidy program for indoor entrepreneurs should be extended to travel agents like Senator Murkowski and members of Congress. Mark Amodei (R-NV) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) proposed before the bill passed.