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MEDIA RELEASE: Travel Agencies at the frontline of tourism devastation

[Friday, 7 August 2020:] The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) today warned that the quarterly tourism labour stats released yesterday only hint at the current and future employment carnage across travel agencies.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Tourism Satellite Account: tourism labour statistics(1) track the health of the tourism sector over the year to March 2020 and capture the impact of the December 2019 and January bushfires and the beginning of international travel restrictions due to COVID-10.

The quarterly report shows that the impact of the bushfires and the beginning of COVID-19 alone cost the sector 21,900 jobs - 74 per cent of which were full time positions. This is the largest ever fall recorded by the ABS since tracking of tourism jobs began in 2004.

Quotes attributable to Darren Rudd, AFTA CEO:
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel agents operated close to 3,000 locations nationally and employed 40,000 Australians. A recent AFTA member survey showed 98% of our member travel agents have seen revenes drop by 90% and more as a result of the pandemic.”

“These ABS quarterly stats reflect the fact that tourism has been harder hit than the wider economy however we know from our member agents that while JobKeeper has been a very welcome lifeline to keep travel consultants working , this situation has already worsened significantly since March.”

“AFTA continues to work closely and collaboratively with government and across the business community to find the best path forward that will allow things to start returning to normal while accommodating the necessary health measures. In addition to pushing for additional support, AFTA continues to push hard for the introduction of travel bubbles.”

“Today’s news that JobKeeper eligibility will be further eased to allow businesses easier access to the extension is also greatly welcomed.”

“Only three countries in the world have completely closed their borders – India, New Zealand and Australia. While we understand the health rationale, we need to find a way forward by working together to end this commercial and cultural discrimination and get us travelling again.”