In a blessing for some agencies struggling on the edge of financial disaster, during a rough year, Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) announced Monday that it will “Pay it Forward” and provide up to $40 million in interest-free business loans to travel advisors in the new year. That’s up to $250,000 per agency, depending on specific circumstances. More details will be provided in January.
Here’s what you need to know:
Royal Caribbean Group’s ‘Pay It Forward’ concept is the second phase of its successful ‘RCL CARES‘ program in order to support its travel advisors as they look to rebuild their businesses after a challenging 2020. The program makes a $40 million pool of funds available to qualifying travel advisors, who can apply for three-year, interest-free loans of up to $250,000 to keep their businesses focused on a return to growth at a time when the pandemic shows increasing prospects for coming under control.
“We know our travel advisor friends are suffering, too, and we will get through this tough period together, just as we always have,” said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group’s chairman and CEO, in a press announcement. “Our travel partners have stood strong beside us for more than 50 years, and we are determined to be there for them now. We’re going to get to the other side of this challenging time together.”
The pause in cruising has put a financial strain not only on cruise lines, but on travel agencies large and small, the company said, adding that all involved have endured “an unprecedented nine months without sailing.” And while there is optimism that the travel industry will recover strongly post-pandemic, RCL said businesses still need financial wherewithal during this intervening period of slower-than-usual business.
Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, said in a follow-up statement: “I want to personally thank Richard and the entire [RCL] team for this tangible example of a partner who understands that agencies and advisors are an extension of their smart direct-to-consumer strategy, and that your health and wellbeing directly affect their own.”
Further details about the application process for the program would be shared directly with travel advisors in January.