DEAN Long, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
IT HAS been a busy first three weeks as the CEO AFTA. During this time, it has been great to reconnect with many of you, albeit virtually and importantly seeing governments make decisions to allow us to reopen and sell travel. For many the news of reopening is welcome but now we face the prospect of rebuilding your businesses to meet the new challenges of travel in a COVID-19 world.
During the last 24 months, the unity that the travel sector has demonstrated in its advocacy to Government to ensure our sector was recognised, has been incredible to watch. This success is the envy of the entire tourism industry and while not everyone has been granted the support they believed was owed to them, it is a huge step in the right direction and one we must build on.
During my previous four years at AFTA as the Head of Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships, I was part of the team meeting with members over practicalities on how we shaped our future as a sector. I loved my time in that role and enjoyed being part of the team shaping how deregulation would play out and the development of initiatives including the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme.
Now that I am back, I am so proud to be working with a dedicated team and Board of Directors, focused on ensuring we have a clean and clear bridge to recovery and a strong and prosperous future. There is no doubt we have challenges ahead, but the AFTA team and Board are clear on our path forward. The immediate priority is optimising the ongoing support so that our members can keep providing the essential support that travelling Australians need.
It is also important that we acknowledge the tremendous support of AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring and the Board who, day after day, week after week, have volunteered time to beat the drum about the need for support, and raise awareness around the value of a travel professional. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge Tom in his commitment and contribution as Chair and especially during his recent stint as Executive Chair. He deserves recognition for his unpaid and significant effort in advocacy.