New York, NY (March 13, 2020) — Travel Leaders Group, the largest travel agency organization in North America, submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business regarding the coronavirus crisis that is enveloping the travel industry and the country at large. The company is requesting a relief package on behalf of small business owners including grants, no-interest loans, tax credits, a payroll tax holiday and assistance with sick pay. The company has also sent letters to the Small Business Administration and Congressional leadership.
As outlined in the Testimony of Safe Harbors Business Travel, a member of Travel Leaders Network, as well as the American Society of Travel Advisors, of which Travel Leaders Group is a member, the coronavirus has created a potential threat to the survival of thousands of small businesses in the travel retail sector. The U.S. Travel Association reports that travel and tourism accounts for 15.7 million U.S. jobs and $2.5 trillion in economic output.
Travel Leaders Group CEO J.D. O’Hara said the retail travel advisor sector is populated almost entirely by small businesses that are an essential element to the distribution of travel supplier products and services to the consumer. Loss of these small retailers will impact larger companies that are the backbone of the U.S. travel services network, as well as companies around the country that depend on them for business travel services.
Every travel sector has been negatively affected and has not seen a reversal of what was a very strong early start to the year in just a matter of weeks.
“We are urging the government to swiftly adopt palliative measures that will shore up the industry’s cash flows and sustain the ability to serve existing customers and facilitate the booking of future travel,” the statement continues. Recommended actions include tax relief, including particularly a payroll tax holiday and/or tax credits to offset those cash flow impacts, grants, and SBA loan enhancements with zero interest and reduced collateral requirements which otherwise make loans infeasible for many small business owners.
Travel Leaders Group is asking for remedies for the losses that small businesses will sustain, so they can keep their workers gainfully employed. The company strongly endorses programs that will not leave the industry overwhelmed by debt when recovery begins. In addition to the cash flow issue, workers in the retail travel sector do not typically enjoy robust benefits such as extensive paid sick leave and health care plans. Travel Leaders Group therefore strongly urges the administration to expeditiously pursue a program to address these factors.
In the meantime, the retail travel industry is working hard to care for their clients who have faced significant travel disruptions. Recently, Travel Leaders Network, home to the franchise division within the Travel Leaders Group family, held a comprehensive webinar outlining a multitude of self-help business strategies by which advisors and agencies may limit some of the financial damage while continuing to help the public fulfill important personal and business travel needs. Additional webinars and other strategic advice will be produced in the coming days.
Travel Leaders Group is fully committed to doing everything in its power to help its advisors and agencies survive this staggering blow. “We cannot do it alone, however,” according to the statement. “The federal government, in particular, must play a prominent role in providing emergency resources to sustain our industry through these troubled times.”
Travel Leaders Group is primarily a servicing company for a collection of retail sellers of travel working in all travel sectors, including air, cruise, land tours, hotel and related services. Its business is comprised of more than 6,000 company-owned, franchised and affiliated travel agency locations throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and a variety of other international locations. The company overall represents more than 65,000 travel advisors worldwide and ranks as one of the industry’s largest travel agency companies.
About Travel Leaders Group
Travel Leaders Group (www.TravelLeadersGroup.com) is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients through our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers, Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands. With over 6,000 agency locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest travel agency companies. Travelers also have access to The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group, a portfolio of select travel offers including discounts on international and domestic flights, value-added benefits at lodging establishments, shipboard credits on cruises and savings on escorted and vacation packages. Membership to The Travel Collection is offered at no additional cost to U.S. American Express Gold Card, Business Gold Rewards Card, Platinum Card® and Business Platinum Card® Members. For more information visit www.TheTravelCollection.com.