Travel Agents

AFTA prompts ACCC to update advice on COVID-affected travel

Increased engagement between the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has seen the government organisation’s website updated to help manage consumer expectations around COVID travel restrictions.

Following a presentation from AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd and head of operations and compliance Naomi Menon, the industry body presented a detailed paper with some suggestions to the ACCC.

In late December 2020, the consumer watchdog updated its website with some key additions that AFTA believes will assist members by providing consumers with a more balanced and realistic approach to manage their expectations around travel bookings and refunds.

The additions include advice about the right to a refund or credit for bookings impacted by COVID-related travel restrictions.

“In general, whether consumers are entitled to a refund for travel bookings cancelled due to government restrictions will depend on the terms and conditions of their booking,” the website states.

“Terms and conditions will vary between travel providers and, in some cases, consumers might not be entitled to a full, or any, refund of their booking.

“Some terms and conditions may provide for the ability to re-book, or credit notes, rather than refunds for cancelled bookings.”

The ACCC has also added advice in response to the question, ‘What should I do before I book any travel?’ AFTA recommends that all agents review this to understand the expectations from the agent perspective.

You can check out the changes to the ACCC’s website here.

Commenting on the changes, Rudd said: “We are very pleased to see the ACCC have now updated their website with key additions that will assist travel agents by providing consumers with a more balanced and realistic approach to manage their travel, particularly in terms of refunds.

“In supporting our agents through this difficult time, it is critical consumers are being provided with the right information and updates.

“We are confident the updates on the ACCC website will help manage expectations around COVID travel bookings and refunds moving forward.

“AFTA worked very closely with the ACCC throughout 2020 and we will continue to do so throughout 2021.”

The federation is planning to host a special interactive webinar for members with ACCC deputy commissioner Delia Rickard in either February or March.

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