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MEDIA RELEASE: Thank you for extra $130 Million in support

[12 March 2021:] The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) welcomes the Morrison-McCormack Government’s commitment to working with industry to ensure the $130 Million extension to the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program helps as many travel agents and businesses as possible.

AFTA also welcomes the Government’s commitment to ongoing collaboration on adjustments to the now $258 Million Program.

AFTA will continue to work closely with Government to refine the implementation of the Program so that those travel businesses that most need support receive it.

Quotes attributable to AFTA CEO Darren Rudd
“This package, which provides a further $130 million in targeted industry support to travel agents, wholesalers and inbound tour operators is an important lifeline to help get agents and travel businesses through the next three months while vaccines rollout and Australia prepares to open its borders again.”

“JobKeeper has been a lifeline for so many businesses, small, medium and large, and we thank the Morrison-McCormack Government for that. With revenue drops across most travel businesses of more than 90% and many cases close to 100%, this will help bridge the gap between now and when international travel resumes.”

“Travel agents continue to work on the repatriation of over $4billion in outstanding credits and refunds for Australians and are looking forward to rebuilding and restoring the industry over the year ahead.”

“We look forward to working with the Government on the design parameters of this lifeline to ensure a fair and equitable distribution across the many thousands of impacted businesses in our sector around the country. We thank the Coalition Government for its ongoing commitment and support and for the commitment to working with industry to refine the conditions and make the necessary adjustments to the program.”

Call to use travel agents in booking the 800,000 half-price seats
“The fact is right now people can’t travel overseas and there are many wonderful destinations in Australia that are struggling due to a total lack of international visitors. Encouraging Australians to holiday this year at home is critical to the livelihoods of so many businesses and this initiative will go a long way to helping secure the future of many of those businesses and the families they support.”

“The one thing we would ask is that the Government and the airlines ensure that travel agents can also book these discounted fares for their customers through the normal GDS platforms that they use day in day out. That is critical to agents and will also help maximise the value of the land portion booked alongside these discounted airfares.”

A recent survey of AFTA members showed (1513 entity respondents) showed:

  • 67% are small and medium retail leisure agencies;
  • 94% are dealing with a decline in revenue of 90% (with 99% experiencing at least a 70% decline);
  • 80% of the workforce of travel agents businesses are women;
  • 81% of all travel businesses’ work is helping customers with COVID-impacted travel – there is still $4 Billion in refunds and credits which travel agents are working to repatriate from international airlines, hotels and tour operators on behalf of Australian consumers on top of the $6 Billion already secured;
  • 43% believe they are unlikely to return to profit until 2023.

-ENDS-


Notes for Editors;
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is the peak body in Australia representing the retail travel industry. Founded in 1957, AFTA represents the majority of travel agents in Australia and includes all of the major travel agency groups.

AFTA is supporting the travel agency community, travelling public and travel suppliers to the best of our ability during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian travel agencies have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the facts:

  • 70% of international travel in Australia is booked through travel agents keeping money in Australia and generating taxes to benefit the Australian economy
  • Prior to COVID, the industry has experienced year on year growth of 11% and maintained growth of 7.25% over the past five years
  • In 2018-19, Australians spent over $46 Billion on international travel, representing the largest import sector of the Australian economy
  • Each year travel agents collect taxes worth $1 Billion and contribute $28 Billion nationally to the economy
  • 71% of the sector are women
  • These are predominantly independently owned small businesses
  • Travel agents have successfully repatriated $6 Billion in refunds and credits from overseas airlines, hotels and tour operators for Australian consumers – there is still $4 Billion outstanding. They have been doing this time consuming and frustrating work for free while having to continue to fund operating costs including GDS fees and insurances to allow this to happen.