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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 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.”

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.