The COVID 19 pandemic caused mass cancellations at an unprecedented rate last spring, and based on consumer feedback, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) says it understands the need to provide refunds on COVID-19 affected bookings.
“We know this is what the majority of Canadian consumers have asked for, and understand from yesterday’s announcement by Minister Garneau that consumer refunds will be a condition of any government aid,” said Wendy Paradis, president, ACTA, referring to remarks Garneau made on Nov. 8 about federal aid for airlines.
ACTA, however, says it remains opposed to any policy by airlines and other suppliers to recall commissions.
“Travel agencies and travel agents have worked tirelessly on behalf of our mutual customers since last March, when all travel was abruptly halted and thousands of travellers had to find their way home and pursue refunds and compensation,” said Paradis. Many travel agents have worked throughout the spring and summer trying to mediate these disputes between our mutual customers, and airlines, tour operators and cruise lines.”
"Government aid must cover commissions"
According to Paradis, ACTA is actively lobbying the federal government to include travel agent commissions as part of any aid package given to the travel industry – either by stipulating that the aid must cover all commissions and that they must not be recalled - or by direct compensation to travel agents and travel agencies.
Travel agencies and travel agents have seen revenue drops of over 90% since March 2020, ACTA said.
Travel is one of the hardest hit industries and having experienced close to zero income over the past eight months, travel agents and agencies no longer have the funds to support a recall of commissions by any travel supplier, as they have already used or earmarked these funds to pay wages, rent and other fixed expenses, the associated noted.
“We have been asking the government repeatedly to include travel agencies and travel agents in any aid package for the travel industry,” said Paradis. “We need to make sure the government understands that travel agencies and travel agents are an integral part of the distribution channel for all travel industry suppliers and that decisions to give refunds have a direct impact on these small businesses and independent contractors across Canada.”