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AFTA's #MeetYourMP campaign

14 March 2022: AFTA’s #MeetYourMP campaign has continued over recent weeks with 5 meetings held in the past week and 22 meetings locked in place as AFTA members share their reality and need for support with federal Parliamentarians.

This is in addition to the direct lobbying the AFTA Board and team continue to undertake on a daily basis as part of what has been a two-year fight for ongoing support for the sector.

These briefings continue AFTA’s campaign over the past two years to make sure that federal Parliamentarians and decision makers understand the devastating impact of international travel bans due to COVID and related restrictions on Australia’s travel professionals. With a third of the sector’s workforce lost as a result of the economic fallout, and with reliance from travelling Australians on the rise including in relation to the up to $6 Billion in credits for COVID-impacted travel, AFTA and members continue to make the need for ongoing support until international travel normalises which won’t be before late 2022.

Meetings in the last week alone have included briefings of Pat Conaghan, Anne Stanley, Gladys Lui, Emma McBride, Kate Thwaites, and Angie Bell. A total of 22 meetings are locked in with more to come as AFTA continues this important outreach program with the support of AFTA members.

AFTA CEO Dean Long, AFTA Interim Head of Advocacy LJ Loch and AFTA Member Connie Laosy met with Anne Stanley, Federal MP for Werriwa in NSW from the Australian Labor Party.The current asks include the distribution of the outstanding $74 million approved for the sector as part of the $258 million COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.

The news from Friday’s National Cabinet that it “noted positive progress by the eastern states and the cruise industry to develop appropriate health protocols and common guidelines to support a safe return to cruising in their jurisdictions over the coming months” is welcome sentiment but lacking the detail the sector needs to start planning. We encourage Government at all levels to commit to a date so that necessary planning can commence.

Alongside the Federal advocacy, AFTA has also continued our State and Territory advocacy and has now meet with all State and Territory Ministers responsible for Consumer Affairs apart from SA.

Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown economically for close to 700 days due to international travel and cruising representing the bulk of revenue for most agencies. With international travelling only normalising in the second half of 2022, these two financial quarters are the toughest the sector has ever faced.

A survey of AFTA members shows revenue for Jan 22 is down 96% from Jan 30, compounding the 80% decline experienced in FY21. On average 51% of all travel businesses’ work is assisting clients to use travel credits for COVID-affected travel.

Quotes attributable to Dean Long, CEO of AFTA

“AFTA is continuing our 2-year campaign with the support of our members to make sure that local Members of Parliament understand the reality Australia’s travel sector is dealing with. We are simply not going to see international travel normalise until later this year which means Australia’s travel sector won’t see anything close to significant revenue flow until then.”

“This is at a time when Australians are looking to convert the up to $6 Billion in travel credits for COVID impacted travel and looking to their local travel agent to help make that happen as well as there being increasing reliance on travel professionals to navigate, book and manage travel in COVID times.”

“While the feedback we are getting from Canberra is positive, and we are hopeful that the many representations through local electorate offices are adding weight to our direct AFTA representations, the fact remains that we need the immediate release of the remaining $74m approved and not yet allocated funds under the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Grant program and we need the additional funding as requested in our pre-Budget submission.”

“Given travelling Australians need travel professionals now more than ever, given our members are important contributors within local communities, and given the significant economic contribution Travel makes to the Australian economy including in supporting Australia’s inbound Tourism sector, Government support is a no-brainer.”

Media Contact: LJ Loch 0488038555