After opening a travel agency shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began, a Victorian businesswoman has become the only certified travel professional for people with autism.
When Victoria’s Kristy Moore looked around last year, she realised she’d lost the joy for her business. It wasn’t what she really wanted to do.
Taking a walk down memory lane, she opened her senior yearbook. Written on those pages was her dream, to have her own travel agency, in black and white.
“After school, I did start down the travel path, but life took me in a different direction. It was something I always wanted to do,” Moore said.
But the challenge was, when she went looking for a job in the industry, 20 years on, everyone wanted recent experience.
“I came across a program for people who had been in the travel industry. I officially signed up in November 2019 and officially graduated on 24 January, I opened my doors and on the 25th the first cased of COVID appeared in Australia,” she said.
“The first month was normal. I had quite a few bookings and then March 19, Australia shut down and my business came to a halt.
“All I knew was I had made my dream come true. It is weird to say but it is the best thing I have done.
“While not much happened last year, I was able to build my business foundations.”
While the travel industry globally has been hugely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Moore has found a few ways to serve the local market.
With Australia’s strict border controls and responsiveness to the virus, local travel is still an option, with thousands of Aussies exploring their backyard.
“I did the Ignite course with Women Business School, which gave me building blocks and courage to specialise my services,” she said.
“I also did a course to become a certified travel professional for people with autism. I did this because of my family’s experience—my daughter has autism, and I was diagnosed recently.
“I am the only one in Australia who has this qualification. I now help families for people with children who have autism or adults who have autism.”
Moore wants to widen her services and has applied for NDIS so people with autism can travel with carers. But Moore is not one to rest on her successes—she’s also written a colouring and picture book and sensory travel kit, launching this year.
“The colouring book came about through home learning,” Moore said. Everyone was talking about literacy and numeracy. There was nothing there about geography. Kayla the Koala goes on an Australian adventure, with each page with her at a different location.
“I want to teach kids about our country and the wonderful experiences they can have.”