Travel Agents

AFTA suffers $450K annual loss

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

The financial health of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has been laid bare in its annual report, with the industry body swinging to a loss.

AFTA recorded a $450,699 loss for the 12 months to 31 March 2020, compared to a $6,971 surplus it posted during the prior corresponding period.

Chair Tom Manwaring noted that AFTA was on track for a “solid year” and was operating within its means, but a severe contraction in the share market in March meant the federation’s financial assets were “heavily impacted”.

The report revealed that AFTA’s total revenue plummeted by 31.1 per cent over the 12-month period to $2.2 million, due largely to a $430,377 loss for its financial assets – a big swing away from the $380,972 gain enjoyed a year earlier.

Membership and accreditation income remained the most significant income stream for AFTA, dropping just 0.3 per cent as a result of industry consolidation to $2.2 million.

As of 31 March 2020, there were a total number of 2,738 ATAS accredited locations throughout Australia – down 2.4 per cent compared to 2019.

Bucking the negative trend, income from the National Travel Industry Awards rose 6.9 per cent to $78,578.

Income generated from AFTA’s marketing activities declined by 21.6 per cent to $12,425, while education and training revenue halved to $3,000.

AFTA was forced to cancel this year’s NTIAs due to COVID-19, and also decided not to charge membership fees for the next billing year.

The federation also withdrew all consumer marketing of ATAS, with a focus on member support, and suspended its Chargeback Scheme and reduced its operating hours.

Manwaring said that while the sale of AFTA’s property asset in 2018 realised a “significant” profit and has provided the organisation with a cash pool and the capacity to waive member fees, the intention going forward is to preserve these funds for as long as possible.

Disgraced former CEO Jayson Westbury also got a mention in AFTA’s annual report, with Manwaring acknowledging his “significant” contribution to the federation and the travel industry at an Australian and global level.

“Jayson led our sector for 13 years through the transformation to industry self-regulation as well as many other game-changing initiatives,” Manwaring said.

“His work cemented AFTA’s position as the peak industry body, and we thank him for that.”

Westbury, who has since moved on to launch his own consultancy, resigned from the top job at AFTA back in May over comments he made about TV host Tracy Grimshaw during an online seminar.

He has since been replaced by Darren Rudd, who has kept himself very busy by lobbying the federal government to provide a travel agent support package of $125 million, as well as a range of business relief measures.

AFTA chief Darren Rudd will be speaking at the travel industry’s most thought-provoking conference, Travel DAZE 2020. To find out more or to register, click here.


Featured image source: iStock/kemie

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