The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has received more than 100 new membership applications amid the COVID crisis, on top of solid member renewal numbers.
Given approximately a third of the sector has closed down or gone into hibernation as a result of the pandemic, AFTA chair Tom Manwaring said the strong membership demand was a “remarkable” result and a vote of confidence for agents.
“The level of inquiry about becoming part of AFTA and working with us to continue to shape our sector’s future continues to climb,” he said.
“On top of the strong renewal rate of those AFTA members who continue to trade, which actually puts our proportional representation well ahead of pre-COVID levels, AFTA has had nearly 100 additional new applications over this period.
“We have so far accepted and accredited over 50 of these applications, with 20 still under review, bearing in mind that not every application is successful.”
“The AFTA board and team remain entirely focused on delivering for our members and sector. We are grateful for the ongoing support.”
Manwaring said AFTA is continuing direct lobbying for ongoing federal government support either as an extension of the grants program or national implementation of the support currently in place in NSW for locked-down businesses.
The industry body is also seeking an urgent review of the government’s SME Recovery Loan Scheme, along with support to retain existing talent and develop skills so that the necessary expertise is retained within the sector, which Manwaring said was “at crisis point”.
“It’s fantastic that we are continuing to move to a more ‘normal’ existence,” he said.
“However, our sector will not magically recover the moment international travel becomes possible or, let alone, even affordable.
“Without support into either the first half of 2022 or until international travel normalises, the future for our sector and the 25,000 who still work in it is looking pretty grim.
“We’ve lost about a third of our sector as a result of the devastating economic impact of COVID. That’s expertise Australian consumers and businesses can ill-afford to lose, especially given we will need travel agents more than ever to navigate travel in COVID times.
“We have a national roadmap to recovery in place, and we need all states and territories to stick to the agreed position. We need more Australians vaccinated more quickly so that we reach those magic thresholds.
“The AFTA board and team would also like to thank the many members who have taken time to provide such positive feedback and compliments on our successes, impact and support. Each and every one of the messages and calls is very much appreciated.”
Featured image source: iStock/sigoisette