“You can’t start the next chapter if you’re re-reading the last one”.
There’s no doubt these are extremely challenging times and travel is amongst the hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic. But if there is one thing that COVID-19 has demonstrated, it is just how resilient, passionate and united our travel industry is.
The challenges our industry is facing today, are not new issues. They are challenges that our industry has been faced with since as early as January and AFTA have always had open, frank and healthy rhetoric with members and industry in order to actively support the travel and tourism sector through COVID-19.
In fact, it is worth emphasising that AFTA has never understated or underestimated the impact of the pandemic and that is why, from the very beginning, AFTA has been constructively and collaboratively working with all levels of government to give our members a voice.
Very early on, the AFTA team were addressing the “hard-stuff”, even when it was uncomfortable to do so. Discussion took place internally about how, and the right time, to discuss with members the reality that unfortunately some businesses will close.
That is why we brought in insolvency experts and created toolkits to assist with temporary and permanent business closure. We sought guidance from legal experts, delivered webinars which provided support for members’ mental-welling and established communications tools to help members contemplate the scenarios and understand the steps that they may need to take in managing the financial health of their business.
Our 62 COVID-19 webinars have been watched by over 16,000 travel agent owners, managers and their consultants, and has received a 96% satisfaction rating – why? Because members are using this time to work on the business when they cannot actively work in the business due to travel restrictions and closed borders.
The quote I began with is a reminder that it is time we start looking at what we can control. What are the factors we need to consider now, and in the future, to secure our future; as individuals, as business owners and as part of a broader travel ecosystem?
AFTA is having these conversations with government, stakeholders and with other industry groups because whilst travel is on hold, it won’t last forever. Travel is at the heart of Australia’s economy. We have a role to play and we need to be ready to deliver when borders open.