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Continuing to create a stronger sector for agents and consumers

8 July 2021: With Australia’s travel agents having played a critical role in helping consumers successfully navigate COVID lockdowns and border shutdowns, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is committed to the protection of consumers and travel agents.

Travel agents have so far successfully secured $7 Billion worth of credits and refunds for COVID-impacted travel from hotels, airlines, tour operators, cruise lines and other suppliers on behalf of their clients with an estimated $3 Billion (the majority of which is now in credits) still outstanding.

The process for securing refunds and credits is incredibly time-consuming, complex and often frustrating with the suppliers’ Terms and Conditions determining whether a credit or refund is available. Agents have been providing this support to consumers despite agents experiencing revenue falls of 90%-plus from the imposition of the international travel ban in March 2020.

AFTA’s comments follow today’s release of “Consumer Protection for Australian Travellers” Report by CHOICE.

Key Facts:

  • The terms and conditions set by the supplier (airline, hotel, tour operator etc) determine whether the consumer receives a refund or a credit on COVID-impacted travel.
  • Consumer funds do not sit with the travel agent. The consumer pays for the booking with the travel agent who then pays the supplier (the airline, hotel, tour operator etc) in order for the ticket or booking to be confirmed. It is the end supplier and not the travel agent who holds the funds.
  • The process of securing credits and refunds on a global scale has become more complicated and complex and taking weeks and months with differing supplier terms and conditions. In addition to this, some countries have placed rules on end suppliers not allowing refunds to leave their country.

Quotes attributable to AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring
“AFTA and Australia’s travel agents have a long track record in working collaboratively with the ACCC and all stakeholders including CHOICE and we look forward to continuing to do so.”

“This commitment to supporting consumers is demonstrated in the tireless work of Australia’s travel agents in chasing and securing an estimated $7 Billion worth of credits and refunds for COVID-impacted travel from airlines, hotels, tour operators and other suppliers on behalf of their customers.”

“We commit to continuing to do what we can as an industry to support consumers through the multiple challenges and frustrations of both securing their refunds and credits on COVID-impacted travel and managing travel in times of COVID, especially once international travel opens up.”

“Consumer confidence in and reliance on travel agents remains strong and has in fact been boosted by the incredible support agents have provided during these times. Many of our member agents have reported a surge in customers who had initially made their bookings direct with suppliers and who have then turned to their local agent to help manage their bookings.”

“There’s no doubt that consumer confidence has been dented by the ramifications of COVID restrictions including snap border closures and travel bans and any measures that can restore confidence levels are definitely worth exploring.”

MEDIA CONTACT: LJ Loch 0488038555

Notes for Editors;
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is the peak body in Australia representing the retail travel industry. Founded in 1957, AFTA represents the majority of travel agents in Australia and includes all of the major travel agency groups.
AFTA is supporting the travel agency community, travelling public and travel suppliers to the best of our ability during this COVID-19 pandemic.