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Executive announces £1.175m additional support for travel agency businesses


The Executive has today announced a Covid support scheme for travel agents experiencing difficulties as a result of the pandemic.


Welcoming the Travel Agents Scheme, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the support scheme was necessary to ensure the continued viability of the travel agency sector.


First Minister Arlene Foster said:


“Local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and the Executive has already provided a significant package of support; today we have agreed to provide a dedicated scheme for travel agents.


“A viable travel agents industry is critical to support a return to normal and build confidence that travel agents and other retail businesses will continue to be a feature of our high streets.


“We have agreed to open a limited, time-bound scheme which will provide a flat payment of either £3,500 or £10,000 to eligible applicants.”


The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:


“The pandemic has presented huge challenges for our businesses. Given the necessary limitations on travel, there has been a severe impact on the travel industry, including travel agents.


“The Travel Agents Scheme will provide in the region of £1.175million of much-needed support. In what will be a very challenging environment going forward, this funding will help travel agents facing financial difficulties to continue operating and help to protect jobs.”


Funding provided through the Travel Agents Scheme will help vulnerable but viable travel agents, including self-employed homeworkers, with the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational; with the cost of re-connecting with employees and customers and adapting customer marketing; and the cost of financial planning.


The Department of Finance brought forward the proposal for the scheme and the scheme will be delivered by The Executive Office.


The scheme includes a flat payment of £10k to travel agency businesses operating from commercial premises, or £3.5k payment to self-employed travel agents working from home.


The scheme will be launched on 19 March 2021 and will be open until 26 March 2021.


Links to the scheme will be available next week in advance of the Scheme’s launch on the Executive Office website.


Travel Agents meeting the following criteria will be eligible for the flat payment of £10k; that is, they must:


(a) be operating as a travel agent in Northern Ireland from commercial premises i.e. premises in respect of which non-domestic rates are paid ;

(b) have been operating from 5 March 2020 to 12 March 2021 (both dates inclusive);

(c) intend to continue operating; and

(d)have suffered financial hardship as a travel agent as a result of the pandemic.


Businesses that operate from multiple premises will be able to apply for funding for each of the premises from which they operate. However, this will be subject to subsidy control in line with the subsidy control chapter in the UK- EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.


Homeworkers meeting the following criteria will be eligible for the flat payment of £3500. All eligible applicants must:


(a) be operating from home in Northern Ireland as a self-employed travel agent;

(b) have been operating from 5 March 2020 to 12 March 2021 (both dates inclusive);

(c) intend to continue so operating; and

(d) have suffered financial hardship as a travel agent as a result of the pandemic.