The Australian Federation of Travel Agents has written to the Prime Minister welcoming the support for travel agents in NSW and Victoria but asking for wider support for all travel agents.
An estimated 15,000 jobs have already been lost in Australia’s travel sector. Support measures anchored to jobs like JobKeeper are needed now more than ever given recovery is only going to happen when international travel again becomes possible for most Australians.
Australia’s travel agents have so far secured an estimated $8 Billion worth of credits and refunds for COVID-impacted travel back from hotels, airlines, cruise liners, and tour operators for their clients but there’s still an estimated $2 Billion outstanding. This is time-consuming support which agents are providing with little to no income as a result of revenue falls of 95% plus as a result of the international travel ban.
The letter to the Prime Minister signed by AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring states:
“I would like to highlight the dire situation faced by many travel agents after the Sydney and Melbourne lockdowns eliminated a significant portion of Australia’s domestic leisure and business travel market. Without the ability to sell to the domestic market travel agents are faced with a situation where the product of travel has lost its value and will need assistance to survive. Even before the resurgence of COVID-19 through the Delta strain travel agents of all sizes were experiencing revenue declines of over 90%, while simultaneously completing unpaid and grueling work like processing refunds.”
“Perhaps an even greater concern is the 15,000 highly skilled workers that have left the sector during the pandemic, representing not only a huge loss for the sector but Australian travellers as well. Concerningly, many of the businesses which are the largest employers in our sector were not eligible for the COVID-19 Consumer Assistance grant due to the turnover cap. These businesses are predominantly privately held and benefitted greatly from JobKeeper which allowed them to retain people and skills.”
“Consumers need travel agents now more than ever in managing cancellations, refunds, and credits and, once international travel resumes, will need them to navigate the confusion of travel requirements and restrictions. Travel agents have successfully secured an estimated $8 Billion in credits and refunds on COVID-impacted travel on behalf of consumers from airlines, cruise liners, hotels, and tour operators. There is still $2 Billion worth of travel booked through travel agents to be secured. Fundamentally, travel agents are resilient and hardworking Australian businesses, and if you help support them during this pandemic, they can be one of the cornerstones of Australia’s economic recovery post-COVID-19.”
“Moving forward, we need Australia’s vaccination rollout done as quickly as possible, as the recent outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne demonstrate that vaccines are our only way out of this pandemic. The Government’s recent commitment to getting all Australians vaccinated by Christmas was a step in the right direction. Alongside this vaccination goal, a commitment to opening borders once the vaccination target is met would provide Australians with a renewed motivation to go and get vaccinated.”