Travel Agents

Travel workers stage national day of action urging politicians to introduce AFTA’s recovery package

Travel industry folk across the country are participating in a National Travel Day of Action outside the offices of key federal and state parliamentarians today to speak up about the industry’s unique struggle.

All participants are taking their message directly to political leaders; they believe the travel industry, like other sectors in the economy, should be allowed to trade free of restrictions.

Participants, reportedly 10-15 people across 25 locations, are calling for the lifting of travel and cruise bans, which heavily impacted their businesses, and demanding the urgent introduction of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ (AFTA) Travel Sector Skills Retention and Recovery Package.

Belle Goldie, owner of the itravel Penrith agency in western Sydney and Dan Russell, general manager of Brisbane-based Clean Cruising, who orchestrated the National Travel Day of Action, said the travel sector was now beyond crisis point.

“After two hard years of devastation; travel agents, tour operators and travel-related businesses can no longer remain silent. They need to inform parliamentarians of the cold hard facts of the dire straits they now find themselves in,” Russell said.

“Many travel businesses have already collapsed and so many more are at risk of going under with even more job losses. We face the loss of an entire generation of skilled travel professionals, which is why the adoption of AFTA’s skills retention and recovery package is so vital.

“Job Keeper and sector support have just kept the industry afloat, but we are concerned that further support won’t be forthcoming. We’ve lost all our young employees and those who are left are the business owners and experienced staff with decades in their roles.

“Their legacy skills will be even more vital in helping Australians safely navigate domestic and international travel again. Considering the travelling public are still sitting on over $8B in travel credits, this cannot be put at further risk.”

Goldie said the personal toll on people in the travel and tourism sector including their financial and mental health was horrendous and becoming worse. She was only months away from having to abandon her 22-year commitment to fulfil the dreams of travel-loving Australians.

“I would rather go down fighting and speaking up than see my business, in which I’ve invested my family’s life savings, die slowly and silently on its knees,” Belle said.

“When I started in travel, I never imagined that one day I would be among middle-income earners having to accept charity or having to worry about feeding my children. But my story isn’t special. I know of at least 15 to 20 other agency owners in a similar predicament.

“We fear that the travel bans will be extended and pushed out until after the Federal Election, which would have a completely devastating impact on every business that is part of the travel eco-system and associated industries that many of us rely on to survive.”

A Facebook page devoted to the campaign — Aussie Travel Action Group — attracted more than fifteen hundred followers within days.

“This pandemic is not going to go on forever but nor are the businesses that once comprised Australia’s vital travel and tourism sector,” Goldie said.

“We find ourselves in the invidious position of having to wait for federal and state governments to give us the green light to operate our businesses. The extension of the cruise ban without even the hope of a restart plan is a particular concern because so many businesses including mine depend on it.”


Featured image: iStock/Kanawa_Studio



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