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Advocacy and policy

Advocacy and industry policy development

AFTA works extensively in policy and advocacy across a broad spectrum of issues to ensure travel and tourism remains at the forefront of the minds of policy-makers. AFTA holds a high level of engagement with a range of government and shadow ministers at both a state and federal level. This includes the senior advisors, departmental personnel and other key political staffers. As well as working to ensure that governments are sensitive to the needs of AFTA members and the broader travel industry, we work with other leading industry organisations and maintain strong links with representatives of the main travel destinations and with travel principals and suppliers.

One of AFTA's principle activities is to maintain and monitor federal and state legislation that has an impact on the retail travel industry.

AFTA is actively engaged in the following groups, representing the interests of members:

Commonwealth Smartraveller Consultative Group (SCG) 

AFTA is the Industry Chair of the CCG which is the central plank of the Australian Government industry outreach program to create an active dialog on the issues DFAT is responsible for.

The Committee’s terms of reference are broad and includes; Smartraveller campaign, Consular policy developments, Crisis response and contingency planning, Consular information system replacement and the processes of Australians Passports.

The Group has assists the Commonwealth Government in delivering the Consular services charter, view here > 

The committee has contributed to the Consular Strategy 2014–16.

Tourism Shopping Reform Group (TSRG)

AFTA is a member Tourism Shopping Reform Group (TSRG). The Tourism and Transport Forum and Australian Retailers Association lead a coalition of tourism and retail industry associations and businesses who support the enhancement of Australia’s Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS). The TSRG recognises the fundamental role of retail shopping as a key expenditure activity in the visitor economy.

The administration of Australia’s current TRS is costly, labour intensive, time-consuming, paper-based and an inefficient use of scarce government resources.

The TRS costs the States and Territories (through the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs)) approximately $14 million per annum. Australia is one of only four known countries with a taxpayer- funded and operated TRS (along with Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan).
The proposed reform of the TRS would not alter the current requirements or entitlements for tourist refunds, nor would the reform affect the export verification process conducted by Customs. However the reform would significantly increase the effectiveness of the TRS by introducing a private provider with a commission incentive to market the TRS to international tourists via travel agents, retailers and wineries.

For more information contact Dean Long at

Service Skills Australia (SSA) - Industry Advisory Committee (IAC)

AFTA is represents Australian travel agent sector on the Service Skills Australia Tourism, Travel & Hospitality IAC. SSA role is to support skill development in the service of travel and tourism which have been identified by the Australian Government as important a growth segments.

AFTA engagement with SSA is to ensure the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package are developed to align to the national framework for skills development for students wants to join industry. The SSA education packages are nationally recognised units of competency and qualifications to train and assess individuals in a range of skills and occupations in tourism, hospitality and events.

For more information click here.

Travel Health Advisory Group (THAG)

AFTA is a founding member of the Travel Health Advisory Group (THAG) which aims to provide advice to travellers on travel health. THAG provides information to travellers on varying prevention techniques that should be practiced through the ABC guide to travel health.

Members of the THAG include:

  • Anton Breinl Centre, James Cook University
  • Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine
  • Australian Federation of Travel Agents Limited (AFTA)
  • Diploma Travel, part of Jetset Travelworld Group
  • Faculty of Travel Medicine, Australasian College of Tropical Medicine
  • Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad (MASTA)
  • Qantas Airways Limited
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

In addition to these connections, AFTA maintains a close relationship with each of the federal, state and territory consumer affairs ministers, tourism ministers, treasurers and their staff, as well as the Federal Ministers for Trade Tourism and Investment, Foreign Affairs Small Business, Industry and the Environment. This represents the key political influences under the current government’s structure across the known areas of policy and legislation impacting upon the travel industry.

Within the broader tourism industry, AFTA plays a key role in representing its members and contributing to the issues relevant to the Australian tourism industry. AFTA has a very strong and committed working relationship with many of the key tourism industry bodies. This activity will be further developed via the Tourism Industry Dialog by promoting a collaborative and cohesive engagement with Government and Opposition on the national and international tourism agenda.

AFTA's global interface

AFTA has for many years held a leadership position within the global travel industry. This is delivered via a number of working groups and panels on which AFTA is represented.

This engagement allows AFTA to have a broader reach on the issues that impact the industry and to source relevant global intelligence to disseminate amongst the AFTA family.


AFTA has always held a strong working relationship with both the IATA local office and the global headquarters in Geneva. IATA via BSP and other activities continues to play an important role in travel agents and as a result AFTA members.

AFTA will further maintain its relationship globally with IATA in Geneva both directly and via the PAPGJC.


The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance, also known as WTAAA, was incorporated in 2008 as an international non-profit trade association in Brussels, Belgium.

AFTA is a founding member of the WTAAA and the AFTA CEO is the current Director. WTAAA is the single global voice facilitating the exchange of ideas and information to the global agency community.

WTAAA interacts with supplier partners; airlines, GDS companies, government agencies representing and lobbying on issues on its members behalf. It also mediates with IATA on the global council representing eight global market associations which constitute more than 70% of global airline sales made through the travel agency channel.

WTAAA’s board of directors meets in person twice a year to discuss issues that impact the global travel agency industry, and to share common problem-solving strategies. WTAAA’s current agenda includes discussions on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC), Airline Debit Memos (ADM) and various other industry issues.

Membership of the WTAAA is limited to national associations whose members have a core interest in travel agency distribution process.

Further information can be found at

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