I am acutely aware of the difficulties all travel agents have faced this past year and are continuing to face. With business difficulties in mind, the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.
On 9th February, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs. Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover who are in receipts of a rates bill can benefit. It is anticipated that travel agents will be eligible to apply for this scheme.
We are committed to helping businesses respond to the economic challenges arising from the pandemic with a particular focus on firms that do not qualify for the weekly CRSS grant from the Revenue Commissioners or existing sectoral schemes in areas such as the arts, transport and tourism.
While the grant is modest it will be of substantial assistance to smaller businesses with some of their fixed costs like rent, utilities and security.