Travel Agents

Australia’s small business ombudsman says travel agent support package is “a matter of urgency”

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has called for an urgent response from the federal government regarding a critical support package for travel agents who have been decimated by the COVID crisis.

Kate Carnell said close to 1,300 distressed travel agents completed the ASBFEO’s online survey last month and have been clinging by a thread as they wait to hear if there will be a lifeline announced by the federal government.

“These travel agents, most of whom are small businesses, need help now,” she said.

“Our survey showed that the situation is dire for these travel agents – 98 per cent of which told us their revenue has plunged by more than 75 per cent since COVID restrictions were introduced in March.

“More than half told us their revenue is down by over 100 per cent, meaning they have been paying out more in refunds, including previously made revenue, than they are selling in new business.

Kate Carnell

“It’s clear these small businesses are in a world of pain and a support package should be announced as a matter of urgency.”

Carnell acknowledged the hard work agents have been doing to negotiate refunds from travel companies for their customers, and that, according to the survey, more than half of these small businesses would have already closed down, if not for their commitment to ensuring customers were reimbursed for the holidays they could no longer take.

“Travel agents have been faced with enormous challenges to get back the deposits paid to travel providers such as offshore cruise ship or tour companies on behalf of their customers,” she said.

“A number of travel agents have complained about Qantas specifically, in terms of the length of time it is taking to refund customers.

“If these small business owners were to walk away now, customers would be unlikely to get a refund. That said, travel agents are losing money by keeping their businesses open as they try to do the right thing for their customers.

“With international travel restrictions likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, this is an incredibly difficult situation for small businesses in the tourism sector, but travel agents are among the hardest hit and they will need targeted support to continue the important work they are doing.”

Carnell’s comments come as The Daily Telegraph reported that federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham met with Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chief executive Darren Rudd along with individual agents as the government continues to consider the level of support it can offer.

After revealing that agents would be receiving some sort of financial support at Travel DAZE 2020 earlier this month, Rudd later told Travel Weekly that the process was “frustratingly slow”.

AFTA has opted for a 12-month – rather than an 18-month – bridge back to business, and essentially moved from an initial $125 million ask for sector-specific support to a $250 million ask.


Featured image source: iStock/oonal

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Travel Agents

AFTA prompts ACCC to update advice on COVID-affected travel

AFTA boss Darren Rudd has been rolling up his sleeves so much that his buttoned shirt is starting to resemble a tank top.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

More than 100 million tourism jobs could be saved in 2021: WTTC

The Wolrd Travel & Tourism Council reckons the industry is getting ready to pick itself up, shake itself off and sashay towards recovery.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Ardern threatens to delay two-way trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ after Australia halts Kiwi travellers

by Ali Coulton

The prospect of sending your clients to New Zealand in the first quarter of this year has once again been thrown into jeopardy.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Norwegian extends cruise suspension

This news isn’t particularly surprising. Unless, of course, you’ve been living under a very large rock.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Amsterdam may soon ban tourists from its infamous coffee shops

by Ali Coulton

The days of tourists eating space cakes and bogarting joints in Amsterdam’s infamous coffee shops appear to be numbered, following a proposal from the city’s mayor.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

IAG negotiates half-price deal for Air Europa

The aviation behemoth has turned into a bargain hunter amid the COVID-19 pandemic and realised that $1.6 billion is probably too much to pay for an airline right now.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

New Caledonia Tourism ditches GTI for another local marketing rep

The destination’s tourism board has opted for a ‘French New Wave’ style of marketing, so expect a bit of experimentation and iconoclasm.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Arcadia Expeditions offers private air tour centred on Indigenous storytelling

Got a client who is looking to learn more about the rich culture of Indigenous Australians, but only want to travel via private plane? Start dialling their number.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Historic Southern Highlands property to relaunch as five-star hospitality venue

This soon-to-be-reopened venue even has jail cells. However, that’s not to say they are occupied by any murderers or drug traffickers.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with G Adventures’ Dan Coleman

Here, G Adventures’ sales manager for Australia and New Zealand revealed his secret holiday spot … which isn’t really a secret anymore.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Tourism Minister eyes potential post-JobKeeper support package for travel industry

Fingers and toes are being crossed throughout the industry, as Australia’s new Tourism Minister provides some hope of targeted government support.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Flight evacuated following threatening note

Passengers have been evacuated from a plane at an international airport in the US after flight attendants uncovered a written threat.

Share

CommentComments