Interim results of an industry survey being conducted by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) have further highlighted the critical need for ongoing help from the federal government, according to chief executive Darren Rudd.
AFTA has shared the interim results of its ‘Travelsectorkeeper’ survey with Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, as well as briefing key government members ahead of the Liberal and National Party rooms.
Of the 1,513 entity respondents as of Saturday 20 February, 67 per cent are SME retail leisure agencies, and 80 per cent of the travel agent workforce are women.
The survey data so far also revealed that 94 per cent of respondents are dealing with a decline in revenue of 90 per cent, with 99 per cent experiencing a decline of 70 per cent or more.
Eighty-one per cent of all travel businesses’ work is helping customers with COVID-impacted travel, according to the survey findings, and 43 per cent of respondents believe they are unlikely to return to profit until 2023.
AFTA is using the survey to help argue its case for the evolution and extension of JobKeeper in a tailored way until one quarter after Australia’s international border is reopened.
The federation is also seeking allocation of any funds outstanding from the first round of the Consumer Travel Support Program via a second program round, with an amended payment scale to address issues already identified.
AFTA is working closely with other bodies such as the Council of Australian Tour Operators, the Cruise Lines International Association, the Tourism & Transport Forum, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to keep the pressure on the government through a combination of direct advocacy at a ministerial, member of parliament, senator and local level, and via strategic media engagement.
“The travel sector is grateful for government support to date via the grants support program, but in this our darkest period, we need ongoing support in a renamed, repurposed JobKeeper equivalent for our sector,” AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd said.
“Without this, our sector will be disseminated, leaving Australian consumers with nowhere to turn to assist with the estimated $4 billion in refunds from global airlines, hotels and tour operators.
“Collapse of our sector will also leave the country without the skillset to support the COVID minefield of travel once the international border is liberated.
“JobKeeper has been critical in helping travel businesses keep the doors open and support customers with cancellations, refunds and credits, and we need Travelsectorkeeper moving forward.
“The interim survey results reveal some distressing statistics and highlight the critical need for ongoing help.
“Without it, when JobKeeper ends on March 28, we will see eight in 10 people still working in travel out of a job, and three in 10 businesses having to close, with a further 52 per cent uncertain about their future.”