On Friday, March 27, The American Society of Travel Advisors hosted a webinar on the $2 trillion dollar stimulus package signed by President Trump last week.
The CARES Act is the greatest stimulus packages in history, which is not only designed to aid Americans affected by COVID-19, but also has special provisions for travel agents and other "severely distressed sectors," including access to $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees reserved for the airlines, which ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby says is critical for travel advisors.
"Within the act are multiple avenues for ASTA members to petition for relief. There's a special $25 billion dollar window offered to airlines and 'their ticket agents,'" an impetus for a politico article referenced in the webinar titled: "Who got special deals in the stimulus and why they got them." He added, "for our businesses with 500 employees or fewer, the news is even better."
The new SBA loan program will loan up to $10 million to U.S. businesses with 500 or fewer employees or those below $22 million in annual revenue. The loans, open to independent contractors and the self employed, have no collateral or personal guaranty requirements.
These are not grants, but some loans can be forgiven, including those covering business' payroll, mortgage, rent or utility expenses from February 15 to June 30.
$454 billion in loans will be delegated to businesses with more than 500 employees; those who have not received adequate relief from the other loan programs. These loans, with pre-coronavirus interest rates and terms of up to five years, are available in addition to the $25 billion dollar window offered to airlines and their "ticket agents" (travel advisors).
The legislation aids independent contractors: a group not typically covered under state legislated unemployment insurance programs. "The CARES Act recognizes that there are a whole lot of self-employed people whose incomes have been decimated by this crisis," says Peter Lobasso, Senior Vice President & General Council of ASTA.
Those who can prove they were negatively impacted by COVID-19 can receive benefits similar to that of a W2 employee. Additionally, the IC will be eligible to receive an additional $600 per week for up to four months, regardless of whether they were making less than that amount.
Note: To receive unemployment benefits, contact your state unemployment benefits agency (application procedures vary from state-to-state, and there may be delays).