DARREN Rudd, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
It has been a very busy, but extremely rewarding August. AFTA Chair, Tom Manwaring and myself had the opportunity to appear in front of the Senate Select Committee into COVID-19 on 20 August, where we argued a strong case for the need for on-going tailored support for Australia’s travel agents and covered a range of other key priorities for travel agents including the reality of the payment ecosystem and the critical need for international travel to resume.
Our grassroots campaign, where we bring travel agents together with their local MP, continued throughout August and is delivering for members. Just last week, Member for Wentworth Dave Sharma raised the plight of travel agents in Federal Parliament and we have continued to visit electorates, bringing together AFTA travel agent members and their local MP.
Also last month, AFTA launched an exciting new Micro Credentials Program for the travel industry. Through the program, a partnership with Learning Vault, AFTA is allowing businesses — and their staff — to learn new skills or cross-skill during this challenging time.
AFTA held a Board meeting on 28 August, and it was highlighted that since the start of the pandemic, AFTA had delivered more than 80 webinars reaching 35,000 travel agent owners, managers and their staff.
We recognise however, that, in addition to business support, members need assistance with the emotional and financial stresses that has been brought on by COVID-19. Because of this, at the end of August, AFTA launched a Resilient Mind Program in partnership with Paul Taylor and the Mind Body Brain Performance Institute, a four-week challenge designed to boost resilience. In a single day of launching the program we had over 150 businesses and 500 individuals register take part. The challenge runs from 7 September until 4 October and we look forward to sharing the results with the industry. If ever there is a time to improve the way we each deal with the challenges that life throws at us, and our ability to cope, it’s now.