Travel Agents

“Couldn’t ask for a better outcome”: AFTA chief reacts to historic government rescue package for agents

Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chief executive Darren Rudd has applauded the federal government’s $128 million sector-specific support, the result of what he describes as a “tremendous, combined effort”.

Under the scheme, eligible travel agents with a turnover of more than $50,000 and less than $20 million a year will be able to apply for a one-off payment.

Payments will be scaled, with a minimum payment of $1,500 for a business with a turnover of $50,000 up to a maximum payment of $100,000 for a business with a turnover of $20 million.

More information on how to apply will be available soon, according to the Austrade website.

AFTA said in a statement it was working with the government to make available the web-based vehicle that eligible parties will use to access the grants.

According to the federation, the aim is to ensure intended recipients get paid this month, and specific details of the support package will be issued later this week.

“This is a historic day for Australia’s travel industry,” AFTA chief executive Darren Rudd said.

“We are thrilled to see that the government recognises the need for sector-specific support, and we welcome the announcement of tailored support for Australia’s 4,000 travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and the 40,000 people we employ and the many, many consumers our members support.

“To say this support package is a financial lifeline is a significant understatement. We simply couldn’t ask for a better outcome from government and we are incredibly grateful to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham.”

Rudd said that while it has been an “incredibly challenging” year for everyone in the sector, it will now move into a new period of transformation, consolidation and growth.

“This milestone is the result of many people working together during this difficult time, including our travel agents, who have been going above and beyond to do what they can to process travel credits and refunds for Australians over the past 10 months, despite having to return the commissions earned on these sales,” he said.

“Today is the result of a tremendous, combined effort that saw travel agents around Australia email, call and meet with their local parliamentarians to make sure they understood the need for tailored support. This is democracy in its best and purest form.

“Sincere thanks to every single parliamentarian who took our cause to government. I would also like to thank Small Business Commissioner Kate Carnell and her team for their valuable work, the work of CATO and CLIA, and the wider travel and tourism sector.

“AFTA will continue to work with members, industry stakeholders, government, and media so that together we can rebuild our sector to its former brilliance.”

Rudd revealed that an agent rescue package from the federal government was imminent at Travel DAZE 2020 last month, and described it as a “frustratingly slow” process when it wasn’t announced within the expected timeline in November.

The federation was lobbying for a 12-month – rather than an 18-month – bridge back to business, and essentially moved from a $125 million ask for sector-specific support to a $250 million ask.

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