Welcome to 2021.
My hope is that you all had a safe break over the Christmas and New Year period. A time spent with family and friends to renew and restore.
The AFTA team continued to work over the break preparing material for the new Tourism Minister on proposing improvements to aspects to the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.
Prior to Christmas we received considerable feedback on the various issues pertaining to the Program, its design and implementation challenges.
Our primary focus remains on clarifying and improving the details of the Federal Government's financial support package, including the policy construct, the accessibility and the funding amounts to ensure that it is equitable for all eligible.
We have been forwarding a range of examples of the technical shortcomings through to the necessary members of parliament and government agencies who are working on the Program.
The appointment of Dan Tehan MP as the new Tourism Minister in December, replacing Senator Simon Birmingham, provides opportunity for us to articulate the shortcomings of the Support Program to fresh ears. In fact, a detailed letter was sent to the new Minister in December welcoming him to the role. The letter also highlighted areas of concern with the current design of the Support Program and proposed solutions across five core areas.
Additionally, AFTA CEO Darren Rudd most recently spoke with the Tourism Minister just yesterday on a range of travel and tourism related matters, including an offer to work with him and his team in detail, on both the Support Program as well as the need to convince cabinet that the travel sector needs ongoing sector support in the form of a re-named JobKeeper.
Many of the politicians are just now returning from their Summer break but rest assure our conversations are very much alive and we hope that government Members of Parliament continue to offer our sector support as the government resumes. Also, we continue to keep the opposition fully briefed as AFTA is a non-politically aligned organisation (non-partisan).
On a final note, we are planning meetings with Premiers, State Tourism Ministers and other key stakeholders over the coming months to ensure that we continue to raise the profile of travel agents and the important role they play in the travel supply chain.