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AFTA CEO Update - Tuesday 7 April 2020

We are facing daily difficult challenges right across the travel industry and regardless of your role or position, it is true that things are really tough right now and perhaps harsh decisions are being made.

This is the time when we all need to be thinking of each other and doing what we can to work together.

These are easy to type in a column like this, but they are words that can really mean something as we navigate our way through these times.

We are in a storm of a depth not felt before in modern times and this storm is with us for many more months.
It does seem things get crazier every day at the moment with the situations being presented, that have never been considered.

Solutions are not easy, scenarios which nobody could have ever conceived are reality, and on a daily basis the majority of us in the travel industry are being asked to do things and make decisions that are heartbreaking.

I hope as travel businesses explore the full options of the Government’s JobKeeper package, connections, relationships, and employees working with employers, can bring some good from this mess.

Travel is full of wonderful, smart people who have proven time and again to be resilient, supportive and genuine as we support one another and the millions of travellers that make the right decisions to use a travel agent for their plans.

I know pressures continue to build at an individual and industry level and that many of the support packages being announced by government at both a state and federal level require considerable time to unpack and work out if it can flow to you and the business that you are involved with.

AFTA is providing as much support as we can muster to help owners and managers find their way through the clouds and structures to gain the benefit of billions of dollars being put on the table by government to support business and jobs.

I wish these things we easier and what AFTA is trying to do is decipher and decode and put things into travel speak to make it easier to understand.

The general feedback AFTA has received from across the industry from members and non-members has been outstanding, and if the attendance to the webinars is any sign of this, I am pleased AFTA can continue to push this level of information out for all to access.

We continue to work with government to scope solutions that recognise the enormous scale of the issue right across the travel value chain and the critical importance of tangible outcomes that give everyone in the travel ecosystem, including consumers, the necessary confidence in the system and the future and travel.

We are not the only sector pushing for additional support, however we continue to lobby hard, advocating on behalf of the industry including consumers, and you can sleep well knowing we will not rest until we have more industry specific outcomes that address the many issues around chargebacks and refunds.

Where we have been able, we continue to push positive messages to the consumer media; while this is never an easy task, as there is a new drama unfolding every day, it is important to note serious efforts are made to accommodate the insatiable appetite from the consumer media for a story about the travel industry.

The goal is to keep people dreaming of a holiday, and that travel agents are here to stay, and that we will be there at the other side of this crisis.

I know it’s not easy; these are tough times like nothing any of us have been through before - that takes a toll whether you recognise it or not; that’s why, this week, our webinars focus on helping us all prepare mentally.

We need to understand the actual impact of uncertainty and the techniques to make sure we are in the best possible place to cope and move forward.

COVID-19 might be stopping us from moving around, but it can’t stop us from dreaming and of thinking about those who we love and hold dear in this mad time of our lives - remember, you’re not alone; we are all in this together and we will get through this.