Since February, I have seen my business dry up. Many of my clients are seniors whose cruises and tours were canceled.
Every business in the country has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. But few sectors have been as hard hit, or face a longer road to recovery, than the travel agency industry. According to the American Society of Travel Advisors, with business at a standstill and no end to the pandemic in sight, 64% of travel agencies in the United States have laid off at least half of their staff — even with the federal relief programs provided by the CARES Act in March. What’s more, over 70% will go out of business within the next six months without additional federal relief.
Without that relief, the travel agency sector is looking at an extinction-level event. This would deprive the traveling public of the critical services travel advisors provide and travel suppliers’ (airlines, hotels, cruise lines, etc.) main distribution channel crippled.
So what was the response in Congress to this devastation in our industry and many others? After negotiations over the next relief bill deadlocked, they adjourned for their annual “August recess,” and are not scheduled to return until mid-September.
My message to (“senators X and Y and representative Z”) — to find your legislators, go to ASTA.org/Advocacy, then “Find Politicians” — on behalf of the 140,000 people who work in our industry is simple: Get back to work and support the small businesses who desperately need your help. Doing nothing is not an option. The future of our country depends on it.
PHYLLIS HORODNER, WEST PALM BEACH
Editor’s note: Horodner is a travel consultant and owner of Travel Leaders of the Palm Beaches.