Travel Agents

AFTA chief says Prime Minister set to announce agent-specific support package

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Prime Minister Scott Morrison could make an announcement on financial support for travel agents as early as tonight, according to the head of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

Speaking virtually at Travel DAZE 2020 yesterday, Darren Rudd said Australia’s PM assured him on a video call last Friday that there will be an announcement this week about financial support for agents, travel wholesalers and tour operators, which AFTA and its members have been fiercely lobbying for.

“And he put a footnote if it wasn’t sorted this week, which I suspect means that it’s going to Cabinet tomorrow, and then hopefully we’ll get an understanding of what it looks like,” Rudd said.

Since speaking to federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg about his assumptions underpinning the Budget, Rudd said AFTA has opted for a 12-month – rather than an 18-month – bridge back to business, and essentially moved from a $125 million ask for sector-specific support to a $250 million ask.

“There’s been a range of discussions with Treasury and with [the Department of] Finance since the Budget, working through a range of scenarios, configurations, and feeding a whole lot of data,” he explained

“I am hoping that we get indication if not [Tuesday] evening, then by Wednesday, of what the package looks like.

“If it wasn’t going to get fixed by Wednesday, [the Prime Minister] was going to get more involved himself.

“So, the Prime Minister is acutely aware, the Cabinet are acutely aware, different politicians of all colours and persuasions are acutely aware of the need for this sector to survive and be funded to that end.”

However, while Rudd’s government revelations are very positive news, AFTA’s chief executive warned agents not to get overly excited that the package would end up being “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars”.

“The government may have chosen a different formula completely to what we’ve proposed,” he said.

During the Travel DAZE session, Rudd also share some details on the government’s progress on developing a COVID-19 vaccine, hinted that a new Tourism Minister will be chosen soon, and tackled a number of big picture questions about the future of agents.

Rudd’s Travel DAZE interview is available to watch in full, on demand HERE.

And, there are still plenty more speakers to come this week as part of the virtual conference. Check out when they will be featuring HERE.

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