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Media Release: Travel Agents come into their own thanks to COVID

  • COVID caution sees most travellers waiting on international travel until mid-22
  • Consumer and Corporate reliance on travel agents has surged during COVID and will keep rising
  • AFTA continues to work with Government to help consumers better understand their rights when booking, deferring and cancelling travel

10 November 2021: The value of a travel agent has never been clearer with consumers and corporate travellers turning to travel professionals to navigate the complexities of COVID-travel.

While inquiries are running hot, Australians are showing strong signs of COVID caution with the majority waiting until mid-2022 to begin travel international travel again.

While 70% of all international travel pre-COVID booked by Australians was through a travel agent, the maze of differing requirements across countries and even states on top of varying requirements on airlines means travel professionals are more valuable than ever before. Peak industry body, the Australian Federation of Travel (AFTA) says this reliance on travel experts will increase as international travel resumes as it has in other markets.

An estimated $10 Billion worth of travel booked by Australians was impacted by COVID restrictions and cancellations, and since March 2020, travel agents have so far successfully secured back $8 Billion in credits and refunds from hotels, tour operators, airlines, cruise lines and other travel suppliers for clients. This is a complicated process with each supplier setting their own Terms and Conditions.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents also continues to work closely with Government at all levels and the ACCC to ensure a landscape which helps consumers better understand their rights if they need to cancel or defer travel.

Quotes from AFTA CEO Dean Long
“Australia’s travel agents have been champions of consumers during COVID and successfully secured $8 Billion worth of credits and refunds for their customers for COVID-impacted bookings from airlines, hotels, tour operators and cruise lines. That’s been challenging and time-consuming work with each third-party supplier having their own terms and conditions on bookings so unravelling a complex international booking is no mean feat.”

“On top of the $2 Billion in impacted bookings which is still outstanding, travel agents are now helping clients get the most out of their COVID credits and providing expertise and support in navigating the maze of requirements and restrictions in COVID times.”

“AFTA has a strong track record in working with Government and regulatory agencies and we continue to share our learnings with the shared goal of transparency of consumer rights and responsibilities.”

“We welcome the NSW Government’s announcement of an information standard to help consumers better understand their rights.”

“However, Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for more than 600 days and until airlines and cruise capacity return to normal levels, which won’t be before the second quarter of 2022, we need support so we can keep supporting travelling Australians.”

“The 30,000 Australians who work in Australia’s travel sector and the 3,000 agencies and businesses who employ them urgently need ongoing Government help until mid-2022 so we can keep the skills and the travel experts employed until our sector is able to recover.”

Media Contact: LJ Loch 0488038555 lj.loch@afta.com.au