Travel Agents

AFTA launches next phase of JobKeeper campaign

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has shifted to the next phase of its lobbying campaign for the extension of JobKeeper for eligible businesses in the travel sector and wider sector-specific support, plus action on chargebacks.

The ‘making it real’ phase sees a range of AFTA members share their experiences of the devastating impact of COVID directly with key political and departmental decision-makers, as well as through local and mainstream media.

This kickstarted with the AFTA agent sentiment survey and continued this week with agents directly talking to Treasury and having their stories shared with mainstream media.

AFTA’s ‘making it real’ phase profiles individual member experiences to highlight:

  • The lifeline role of JobKeeper for Australia’s 3,000 travel agents and 40,000 employees across every regional city and most regional towns.
  • The reality that with all agents experiencing a 90 to 100 per cent revenue decline, many employees will lose their jobs if JobKeeper isn’t extended and some will shut.
  • The fact that even as domestic restrictions lift, agents are in a unique position with a time lag in payment from suppliers until travel takes place.
  • The economic value in using Australian experts to book Australian travel.
  • The need for action on chargebacks and recognition of the unique nature of payments in the travel ecosystem.
  • The impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of agents.

AFTA has been lobbying federal, state and territory governments since January when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Tom Manwaring, chair of AFTA, said: “Out of necessity, AFTA’s initial focus was on pulling together a compelling economic case supported by modelling that underpinned our lobbying of key decision-makers at all levels of government so that they understood the unique position travel agents are in and acted to support the sector.

“Our ‘making it real’ campaign is the next step in our strategic approach to highlighting the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on agents, their teams, businesses and families. We are very grateful to the agents involved for their time and for sharing their stories so powerfully.

Manwaring said the stark reality is that without JobKeeper, many agencies will be forced to let go the majority of their staff given the time lag in receiving payments from suppliers.

“AFTA also continues to lobby hard on a range of other critical issues including chargebacks and the importance of Australians supporting Australian travel agents in booking all their travel needs,” he said.

“Adding the voices of hard-working AFTA members and supporting them in sharing their stories with local and mainstream media, as well as directly with decision-makers, is powerful and keeps the momentum going on our campaign for sector-specific support and on action on wider issues including chargebacks.”


Featured image: iStock/Mlenny

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