The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) says the impact of the Omicron variant on travel is an opportunity to reinforce the importance of travel experts and the need for ongoing government support in the sector.
AFTA chair Tom Manwaring and chief executive officer Dean Long (featured image) met with government ministers and members of parliament, including Barnaby Joyce and long-standing sector champion Pat Conaghan, the member for Cowper.
The meetings allowed AFTA to voice their approach to secure additional support for members.
Long commented: “The domino effect of border closures for Australia and across the world as a result of the Omicron variant is the greatest impact on our clients’ confidence since March 2020.”
“During the last six months, AFTA has continued to push the critical and urgent need for ongoing support until at least mid-22. We have deliberately held back on our public lobbying until we better understood the Government’s election focus” said Long.
“Our ask is for a support package of an additional $130 million plus any remaining funds which we understand is around $60 million from the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Grant program. Our focus will be funding for a skills retention and attraction package for retention of skilled employees and attracting new employees.”
Coming out of the pandemic, the government are prioritising skills and workforce renewal and AFTA’s advocacy has been updated to match this.
Long stated: “While we know this has been frustrating for members, for our Sector to have the best chance at getting additional support, we need to be playing on the same field as Government.”
“This is why we have held back on our grassroots activation in recent weeks – we needed to make sure that we have the most impact possible” he said.
AFTA will provide members with an updated toolkit to drive these critical conversations with local federal members of Parliament.