It has been a busy start to the new year. The AFTA team and I have been busily working away in the background across a range of areas including; briefing the new tourism minister on the federal government travel support program, the need for a re-purposed, renamed JobKeeper from 1 April, a more robust engagement framework with the ACCC at the executive level, terms and conditions, travel bubbles and COVIDSafe travel underpinned by a renewed drive in all forms of national media.
An absolute key priority remains working with the government on the travel support package. To that end, I am happy to announce that we have a series of meetings with key Cabinet Ministers including the Tourism Minister this week. We are acutely aware of our members’ concerns across arrange of areas including the policy construct, the amounts within tiering levels, and structural imbalance based on the ambiguity of the G1 BAS statement definition.
Additionally, an extension of a version of JobKeeper for our sector, is also high on the agenda for discussion in Canberra this week following on from our messaging across national TV, print and radio last week. We appreciate that JobKeeper may take on a new name and form, but the underling intention, to ensure travel agents can continue to repatriate the outstanding $4billion in consumer travel funds, remains unchanged. It’s about providing a life-cord to help businesses survive until borders are liberated.
It is also worth noting that AFTA has been collaborating with the ACCC in a more purposeful and constructive way than ever before, and the efforts of this cooperation is resulting in more immediate and real benefit. In late December, the ACCC updated their website with some key additions that will assist members by providing consumers with a more balanced and realistic approach to manage their expectations. Specifically, this change relates to whether or not consumers are entitled to a refund for travel bookings cancelled due to government restrictions will depend on the terms and conditions of their booking. The information can be found at the link here.
Terms and conditions will vary between travel providers, and in some cases consumers might not be entitled to a full, or any, refund of their booking. Some terms and conditions may provide for the ability to re-book, or credit notes, rather than refunds for cancelled bookings.
I would like to encourage all members to please read the email communications that AFTA disseminates on a regular basis and visit the AFTA website to ensure that you remain informed about the work AFTA is undertaking to ensure the survival of the sector and how it relates to you and your business. We are currently developing a road map of webinars commencing this month to keep our members up-to-date on developments.