Western Australian travel agents will be able to access support from a new $3 million State Government fund to help sustain their businesses as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Funded by the State Government’s COVID-19 Industry Support Fund, the program is the first and only dedicated support program in the country for travel agents.
The initial rollout of the program will provide packages of up to $5,000 to eligible home-based agents and minimum $10,000 packages to eligible brick-and-mortar businesses.
WA travel agents have reported that they draw up to 90 per cent of their income from Western Australians travelling overseas, and have been profoundly impacted by the Federal Government’s international border closure.
Since the Australian border closed, WA travel agents have been working tirelessly to refund an estimated $70 million of travel credits and vouchers on behalf of customers while unable to generate income for their businesses.
The program will support travel agents to continue paying their fixed operating expenses to provide support while the Federal Government formulates a longer-term solution.
To be eligible, travel agents must be legitimate small businesses with a current registered Australian Business Number (as at March 20, 2020), and have experienced a 75 per cent or greater reduction in turnover due to the impact of COVID-19.
Applications for the support package open on Friday October 2 and close at 5pm on Friday October 30, with the Small Business Development Corporation to contact WA travel agents direct with information on how to apply. Travel agents who have not been contacted by Wednesday, September 23 are asked to email email@example.com
The program is in addition to the State Government’s existing COVID-19 support measures for small businesses, such as commercial tenancy laws to protect small businesses from the impacts of the pandemic.
As stated by Small Business Minister Paul Papalia:
“Travel agents have been one of the industries most impacted by COVID-19, with up to 90 per cent of their income drawn from Western Australians travelling overseas.
“The Federal Government’s international border closures will continue to severely impact these businesses for some time to come.
“Western Australia is the first and only State in the country to implement a dedicated travel agent support program of this kind.
“The State Government recognises the important work local agents have been doing to refund customers’ travel credits and vouchers from airlines, hotels and tourism companies right around the world.
“This support fund is designed to provide some assistance to travel agents to maintain their operating expenses until the Federal Government devises a longer-term solution.”