The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has warned that agents will still need ongoing government support even if Aussies take up Tourism Australia’s call to take longer holidays.
AFTA chairman Tom Manwaring said that while AFTA welcomed Tourism Australia’s recent marketing push for Aussies to take more and longer holidays, noting that “every little bit helps”, he said that “even the most enthusiastic take-up of holidaying at home won’t be enough to offset the lost revenue to travel agents from Australians travelling overseas”.
“Consumers need travel agents now more than ever, and ongoing government support until international travel resumes is crucial,” AFTA’s chairman said.
“We have already lost approximately 15,000 jobs in our sector as a result of the COVID shutdown. These are highly-skilled and experienced individuals whom we simply can’t afford to lose.”
A new report from Tourism Australia reveals international and state border closures as part of the COVID response cost $80 billion in lost revenue from inbound tourism.
On top of that, however, is the cost of Australians no longer travelling overseas. In 2018-19, Australians spent over $46 billion on international travel, the largest import sector of the Australian economy.
Seventy per cent of this international travel was booked through Australia’s travel agents, according to AFTA. And until international travel resumes, Manwaring said this significant shortfall “can’t and won’t be replaced by domestic travel”.
“We need more Australians getting vaccinated and being encouraged to get vaccinated,” he said.
“We need greater clarity on the decision triggers for state and federal governments on border closures and reopenings.
“Most of all we, need ongoing support for Australia’s travel agents and businesses who are performing such important work in supporting customers, and whose skill and expertise will be so heavily relied on as Australians start travelling again, given the complexities of COVID travel.”
Featured image source: iStock/Nuthawut Somsuk