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Federal Government skills support needed for Travel Sector

25 Jan 2022: Two years on from COVID’s first appearance in Australia, the Travel Sector needs ongoing Federal Government support to meet the growing reliance of Australians on travel professionals.

The Travel Sector Skills Retention and Recovery Package we are calling for consists of an much needed cash injection of $130m to meet business overheads plus $100m to retain and re-engage travel professionals. This includes the immediate distribution of the $60m the Federal Government has already approved for Travel Sector support but which is so far unspent.

Travel Agents have continued to successfully support travelling Australians, especially during COVID shut-downs and border closures. Our members have successfully secured $8bn in credits and refunds for COVID-impacted travel from hotels, airlines, tour operators and cruise lines but there’s still $2bn outstanding.

A third of our Sector has been lost due to almost 700 days in lockdown as a result of the Federal Government’s international travel ban. We need Government support to rebuild that workforce and skills lost so we can meet this increasing corporate and consumer demand, especially as international travel normalises (hopefully mid 2022!)

  • Pre-COVID, 70% of all international bookings in Australia were made through travel agents – this is on the rise with 16% of all new enquiries coming from those using a travel professional for the first time.
  • 52% of bookings are reusing existing credits from COVID-impacted travel
  • A third of the travel sector, 15,000 jobs, have been wiped out and the 3000 remaining travel agencies and businesses need ongoing Govt support to rebuild skills and workforce

Quotes attributable to Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Dean Long (who is available for interview)

“It’s an exhaustingly long runway to recovery for Australia’s travel retailers with international travel not returning to normal until well after mid-2022. We’re heading into the fourth year of a financial tsunami for our sector as a result of the Government’s international travel ban. It meant the handback of 2019 commissions on travel cancellations as well as two years-plus of essentially no international travel or cruise, resulting in revenue falls of 90%-plus."

“The Federal Government must provide the $230 million for AFTA’s Travel Sector Skills Retention & Recovery Package. The package is a two phased approached focusing on travel businesses which need an urgent cash injection to continue to meet their overheads ($130m) and a second $100m to support the retention and reengagement of our team members.”

“These details were provided to the Federal Government in November last year and are enforced in our prebudget submission which is a critical policy step in achieving a positive outcome.”

“There’s still no clear roadmap for cruise re-opening, international and domestic air is and will be significantly constrained for some time and 53% of bookings are using existing credits which require additional support from agents for little revenue. We have lost about a third of the highly skilled professionals from our sector and as consumers look to use their credits and make new bookings, we need financial support to rebuild the skills and workforce.”

“Our ask of the Federal Government is simple – please support us so that we can keep supporting travelling Australians.”

Media Contact: LJ Loch 0488038555 lj.loch@afta.com.au