“We need to address the elephant in the room”: travel agent implores government to make ‘that announcement’

Elephant in the Room - A large elephant in an office meeting room with chairs and paper work knocked over.

Victorian-based travel agent Linda Forster has waxed poetic about the travel industry’s struggles in an impassioned plea for the federal government to stop turning a blind eye…

As the weeks roll on and with JobKeeper’s end imminent, the travel and tourism industry is increasingly asking the same question: when will the elephant in the room be addressed?

As a collective, supportive and proud industry, we find ourselves continually waiting for ‘that announcement’.

When will it come?

When will the relentless uncertainty end?

When will any news ‘eluded to’ be known?

When will we be armed to make a decision?

When will we be equipped to move forward?

The industry fully understands the government border bans and its need to keep our nation safe. We get that!

We understand health should come first. We wholeheartedly agree!

But at whose expense?

The travel/tourism industry, that’s who!

We are also appreciative of JobKeeper’s support over the past 12 months, albeit at reduced rates and we have not stopped working whilst receiving this support.

But who will suffer at its end?

The travel/tourism industry, that’s who!

We thought the travel agent consumer support program released in late 2020 would help us support consumers, however, design flaws meant 65 per cent of businesses don’t benefit with the majority currently caught up in a tedious appeal process.

So, who did it fail?

The travel and tourism industry along with consumers, that’s who!

The industry has been denied the ability to trade, through no fault of its own, so far for 12 months, now recently extended into June 2021.

We are, and continue to be, ‘sacrificed’ for the good of the nation, for where it stands, it’s recovery post-COVID.

We are supportive but equally, we are anguished and deeply conflicted, especially when hearing other businesses are “doing well” (some at the expense of government support programs), that the economy is “thriving”, that the nation is moving past covid into recovery, all whilst our industry faces the hard truth that we are nowhere near this.

Let’s be clear: this recovery whether industry positive or negative, is a direct result of enforced travel bans.

Unfortunately, our industry has been negatively impacted, yet we still wait on forthcoming news to provide clarity about our industry post JobKeeper, the direct consequence of said bans.

On top of organising countless refunds and credits to the tune of $10 billion, all as non-income generating and at times self-funded works, we have needed to take on the additional and at times urgent lobbying of our plight along with the unnecessary justification of our worth to government in why the industry should be helped. Some would suggest is an insult.

Collectively, we have been advocating since mid-2020. Standing up for beliefs, for clients, for industry and for the future.

This tireless work continues.

MP letters, Zoom meetings, face-to-face parliamentary meetings, interviews with all forms of media print/TV/radio, along with multiple and ongoing industry campaigns.

We have been told that we have been heard, that our message has gotten through, yet we find ourselves all these months on now asking, ‘have we?’

We cannot believe we still find ourselves questioning when our worth to the Australian economy will be addressed.

The wait for a response is cruel and with each day passed, heightens the real struggles.

Struggles in loss of direction and motivation.

Struggles in feelings of loss and abandonment.

Struggles in being heard and understood.

Struggles in finances.

Struggles in industry support failings.

Struggles in feeling stuck.

Struggles in having to justify our worth.

Struggles in having to defend our actions.

Struggles in watching a nation move on.

Struggles in the inability to plan for the future.

Above all…

The struggle in understanding WHY we are here and being made to wait for certainty.

We see the odd carrot tease, and the short sharp sweeping statement, but nothing concrete.

Nothing to arm us with what we need and have been screaming for all these months.

Nothing to help us make clear, informed and increasingly pressing decisions about our future.

We implore the government to stand up and ACT NOW.

Provide ‘that announcement’.

Provide that clarity.

We are sick and tired of having to constantly ask.

Let us know where we stand so that we can get on with it.

Get on and avoid the unnecessary distraction in time and effort spent on all this shouting and pleading.

Get on and make informed choices about our business and its future.

Get on and focus back on our clients, where our true worth and value is.

Get on and focus on our own futures, ourselves and our own personal health.

Offer us the courtesy and basic decency in letting us know where we stand.

Especially after all the sacrifices our industry has made in good faith, for the good of the nation and as Australians looking after Australians.

Featured image source: iStock/mphillips007

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. Very eloquently said, Linda. Thank you very much for all your efforts via YouTube and Media to “educate” the governing bodies and the public what the travel industry is going through. Generally they think (and the media does not help there) think that to be a Travel agent is is like Carol from Little Britain.

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