It has been another extremely busy week here at AFTA. The team continues to work hard in support of members and our industry, lobbying political and departmental decision makers and fighting the good fight in showcasing the critical importance of travel agents in Australia’s economic recovery.
The government’s 3-step framework to a COVIDsafe Australia and the easing of travel restrictions brings with it a sharp focus on domestic holidays. AFTA has been working with a number of industry associations and all levels of government to support the timely opening of state borders, critical to returning both corporate and leisure travel. Additionally, AFTA has been engaging with Tourism Australia and was pleased to support the launch of the Aussie Specialist Program for frontline travel agents last week. AFTA is also working on a special webinar series to assist members in the promotion and sales of domestic travel. Thank you to everyone for your feedback on the value of initiatives like this!
One of AFTA’s priorities continues to be ensuring that Government at a Federal, State, and Territory level all understand the reality of the supply chain and the travel agent’s role. Our formal lobbying campaign, which commenced with a submission to Treasury in mid-march, remains in full force. AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring and Courtney Duddleston, Acting General Manager Operations, are talking on a regular basis with key decision makers within Treasury and the Business Liaison Unit (a special COVID-19 advisory task force to the PM). It is critical that those in power understand that even when travel restrictions are lifted, there will be a lengthy financial hangover for agents. We are grateful for the ongoing support of KPMG in helping AFTA financially model this so that the case to Government is compelling. Clearly, travel is not the only sector pushing for support beyond September but know that the right doors are open to us and that we are at the table being heard.
We’re also continuing full steam ahead with our The Facts campaign which shares the truth about travel agent’s with mainstream media, and how agents have gone above and beyond to support consumers through COVID-19. Thanks to those of you who have sent in your examples– please keep sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep sharing them.
AFTA remains in discussion with Treasury and the RBA on chargebacks. We are aware that credit card merchant exposure is a major issue for agents and we therefore continue to work with the right government departments to seek a suitable outcome for our members. It is important government understands the forward delivery risk travel agents are exposed to; AFTA has lodged a number of submissions directly with the Business Liaison Unit and we will continue to work with them to find a suitable solution.
It’s also great to see so many of you taking advantage of the many, varied webinars. We are conscious in deciding what topics to cover, that the majority of agents joining are small, independently owned businesses. Our approach takes this into consideration and based on all the positive feedback, we’re hitting the right mark.
Participation continues to rise rapidly so make sure you register early. This week we have an educational webinar hosted by our Destination Partner, Dubai Tourism as well as AFTA’s weekly update on Friday at 2pm. Next week we launch a special webinar series titled Strategy – Digital – Brand which will be delivered by Twinlife Marketing, helping our AFTA members build reliance and regain business momentum.
Stay positive and healthy, we’re all in this together.