In preparation of yesterday’s U.S. House Committee on Small Business hearing on the impact of coronavirus on U.S. small businesses, the American Society Travel Advisors (ASTA) surveyed its membership and a whopping 97 percent of respondents expect the crisis to have a negative impact on their business this year.
ASTA respondents also report that 92 percent of clients are either very (56 percent) or somewhat (36 percent) concerned about international travel right now, while 72 percent are very (16 percent) or somewhat (56 percent) concerned about domestic travel.
“Our industry is strong and thriving, and I can assure you the myth of the travel agent/advisor as a dying breed is just that—a myth. But we are facing significant challenges right now, as are many companies in the broader travel industry and beyond. At Safe Harbors, the past few weeks have been among the most difficult our agency has faced since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the near-total shutdown of travel that followed,” says Jay Ellenby, president of Bel Air, MD-based Safe Harbors Business Travel and past chair of ASTA. “As of today, our 2020 sales are down 20 percent year-over-year. We are seeing a 37 percent decline in international travel, and that is worsening by the day. We expect March to be devastating and are preparing for sales to be down by far more than 20 percent year-over-year. For April, we can only hope.”
During the hearing, he applauded the recently-enacted Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 (H.R. 6074) to provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to help small businesses impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“After 9/11, small business travel agencies across the country received at least $20 million in loans of this kind, and judging from current trends there will likely be heavy demand for them this time around. This demand will only increase if the crisis drags on,” adds Ellenby.
He concluded by saying, “As the old saying goes, “This too shall pass. 9/11, SARS, the Great Recession—our industry has been through similar situations and has come out stronger on the other end. I’m certain that, working together as an industry and with the support of the members of this committee and throughout Congress and the Administration, we will this time too.”
Overall, travel advisors are showing strong confidence in the midst of this scare. Read more about this here.
To see more of where your peers are traveling, head over to Recommend’s Facebook page. To read about my travels to Colorado just last week, click here, and to read about coronavirus’ impact on your peers’ bookings, click here.