The Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ electorate program continues to deliver, with Member for Wentworth David Sharma raising the plight of travel agents in federal Parliament.
Sharma (pictured above) singled out agents in the House of Representatives on Monday, saying he had recently visited a number of travel agencies in his own electorate in Sydney to find out firsthand how they are dealing with the unprecedented challenges they are facing right now.
“Some have never been as busy, but it is in processing refunds. When they have processed the refunds, they have also had to return the commissions they earned from these sales,” he told Parliament.
“These businesses have benefited from JobKeeper, but in many respects, it has never been tougher for them. They have many of the same costs, but their cash flow is often negative because they have no new bookings coming through the door.
“International travel has taken a big hit. There are no cruises or even domestic travel, flights or packages to places like Queensland, Broome and Uluru. I want today to acknowledge the tough times they face and the stress they’re under.
“But they are all doing the right thing, serving their customers, keeping their doors open, keeping their employees on and, for many, keeping a smile on their faces. I know this is a story being replicated across the country.
“I want to encourage people, if you’re looking to book travel soon, to please use your local travel agents.”
AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd has now coordinated nine visits to local members of Parliament and provided the opportunity for 26 travel agents to share their stories directly with political influencers.
The electorate campaign builds on AFTA’s direct lobbying at a federal level, multiple submissions and recent appearance before the Senate Select Committee into COVID-19.
“AFTA is attacking this problem at multiple levels to make sure our political decision-makers understand how devastatingly hard hit travel agents have been by COVID, border closures and travel restrictions, and why tailored, ongoing financial support and business relief measures are essential,” Rudd said.
“The impact of hearing directly from agents from within their local community really hits home, as David Sharma’s comments to Parliament show.
“He, and in fact all the parliamentarians briefed so far, now understand the multiple challenges travel agents face, the value of travel agents and the important work travel agents have been providing in supporting consumers.
“One of the many benefits of the electorate visits, in addition to raising understanding of travel agents’ challenges, is that they ensure our community has a voice in our national Parliament and amongst our political class at all levels.
“AFTA and our members will continue to raise awareness and push for support at a federal, state and territory level as we work together to get through this.”